What Japanese Restaurant Franchises Are There?

10/01/2019 08:00 | Food franchises

Japanese Restaurant Franchises

First, it was ramen, then sushi, and finally katsu. Over the last two or three decades, Japanese cuisine has emerged as a growing force on the UK culinary scene. Here, we take a look at why this makes it an appealing investment opportunity and which franchises are currently leading the market.

Japanese food in the UK

There can be no doubt that, more than any other cuisine, the UK public has fallen head over heels in love with Japanese food. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of Japanese restaurants in the UK has grown by 67%, far outpacing their Chinese and Thai counterparts. However, only 23% of consumers have reported trying Japanese cuisines, so theres still considerable room for growth.

This surge in demand for Japanese food is reflected in shopping habits, too. Sushi has become a standard feature in supermarket fridges, and meal sets are now an increasingly popular lunchtime option amongst office workers and young professionals.

Best Japanese London

Across the UK, 51% of customers visiting Japanese restaurants are between the ages of 18 and 34. This means that the majority of customers are millennials and that the younger generations are driving the Japanese food craze. This bodes well for the future of the industry, as its highly likely that younger customers will assume this habit when they come of age.

In London, a younger, trendier clientele regularly frequents many excellent Japanese dining options. For instance, Zuma in Knightsbridge is possibly the pinnacle of modern Japanese fine dining in London. Having been open for 15 years, it has slowly and steadily built a dedicated following that recognises its menu to be the best in the capital.

Alternatively, diners could try Sake no Hana a more relaxing Japanese environment that boasts one of the best beef sukiyaki dishes youll ever taste and an impressive array of whiskeys and sakes. Finally, Aqua Kyoto is situated a stone's throw from Oxford Circus and is worth a visit for the rooftop views alone. Fortunately, the restaurant also benefits from an exquisite menu that comes to life in the summer, when the restaurant launches its extra-special foraging selection.

Japanese restaurant jobs London

If youre looking to open your own Japanese restaurant in London, theres serious competition to consider. Finding your niche in the market constitutes much of the challenge, as many restaurateurs have already attempted to mix Japanese food with other international cuisines to build something unique. This approach is typified by SushiSamba a popular London restaurant that fuses Japanese, Peruvian, and Brazilian cuisines to excellent effect.

Japanese restaurant franchise

Rather than trying to find your gap in the market, it may be worth contemplating joining forces with an established business and becoming a franchisee. This way, youll benefit from the companys existing brand reach and wont have to build your business from scratch. Below, weve listed the five most popular Japanese franchises on the market.

Yo! Sushi

First launched in 1997, Yo! Sushi is the UKs biggest sushi franchise and is quickly becoming a regular feature on UK high streets and in prestigious shopping centres. The franchise network now boasts around 100 restaurants around the world, with approximately half of these operated by franchisees. Yo! Sushi has also differentiated itself from competitors by ensuring it stays up to date with the latest service technologies. While conveyer-belts have been used for a considerable amount of time, Yo! Sushi is now also pioneering the iTray a delivery service that utilises flying drones.

To become a Yo! Sushi franchisee, youll need to raise approximately £250,000 to £550,000 in investment. However, the franchise is interested in working alongside franchisees that are willing to open a larger number of restaurants. For this reason, they offer multi-unit franchisees the opportunity to develop five franchise units for a cost of approximately £1 million.

Iso Sushi, Wok & Grill

Iso Sushi is a popular Japanese chain that already has branches in London, Kent, and Wolverhampton. However, its also currently looking to expand its operations to other cities in both the UK and Ireland. Iso is a restaurant that also offers takeaway services, providing franchisees with two sources of revenue.

The Iso Sushi franchise fee is set at £10,000, although additional working capital will be required to set up the business. On top of this one-off fee, franchisees will be expected to pay a monthly 5% royalty fee and a 1% marketing fee.


Launching their first store in Chelsea in 1997, Itsu has now spent more than two decades bringing fresh, healthy, and nutritious Japanese food to the UK public. As a pet project of Pret A Manger founder Julian Metcalfe, the business is headed up by an experienced and talented team that understands what it takes to succeed in the highly competitive food sector.

At the moment, Itsu is exploring the possibility of adopting the franchise model to facilitate greater domestic and international growth. This means that, though none currently exist, investment opportunities are likely to emerge soon.


Perhaps the biggest and most recognisable Japanese brand in the UK, if not the world, Wagamama is a commercial powerhouse that boasts more than 150 restaurants across 19 nations. At least 130 of these branches are in the UK. With a diverse and exciting menu, unique restaurant design, and strong branding, Wagamama makes for an excellent investment.

To become a Wagamama franchisee, youll need to raise at least £40,000. However, youll also need access to a minimum of £40,000 of working capital, too. Locations around the country are available, and the franchisor is actively searching for new franchisees.


Wasabi opened their first UK branch in 2003 and havent looked back since the brand now boasts more than 30 locations in London alone. Though its not currently offering franchising opportunities in the UK, it does seem as though there may soon be investment opportunities in other international markets

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