- Sector: Food & Drink
- Region: London
- Revenue: £10m to £20m
- Website: www.japancentre.com/en
Founded in 1976, Japan Centre has evolved from a small basement shop to a veritable mecca for Japanese foodies everywhere. From its expanded premises in Central London it offers high-quality authentic Japanese food, drink and cooking ingredients to consumers in the UK and Europe.
It now offers a Japanese bakery, the largest selection of sake in Europe, ingredients for home cooking, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as traditional sushi and hot souzai food.
“Learn from others. Keep up to date with businesses in your sector and ensure you are offering, at the very least, the same level of service and quality”
Tak Tokumine, CEO, Japan Centre
In 2005 Japan Centre opened an online store, offering over 3,000 different products with delivery available across the UK and Europe. Then, in 2012, it expanded into separate restaurants – four in central London include Shoryu Ramen, which features in the Michelin Guide 2014-15.
Another restaurant, Ichiryu, will open in 2016 and specialise in hand-made udon – a type of noodle most often used in soup.
According to Tak Tokumine, Japan Centre’s CEO, the company’s success is down to its expert purchasing teams and in-store staff who have kept a close eye on developing trends.
“They pay careful attention to changing consumer behaviours. The purchasing teams are then able to plan in order to get enough stock to meet consumer demand. As a result, we have not only increased our range of bento, sake and matcha but have also imported exclusive products to the UK as part of our speciality food fair events in store.”
1976 – The year in which Japan Centre was established
The company has ambitious plans to expand further into Europe and the US, where interest in Japanese culture is still growing.
“We will capitalise with expanded ranges and look to host our website in French, German and Spanish. In the UK and the US, we will be rolling out and expanding the Shoryu and Ichiryu (restaurants) brands and we would look at growing our workforce by 20-30%,” says Tak.
New businesses at the start of their journeys should not be afraid to emulate rivals, he adds. “Learn from others. Keep up to date with businesses in your sector and ensure you are offering, at the very least, the same level of service and quality to remain attractive to consumers.”