Sushi chain Itsu plans to open 15 new restaurants a year as demand for healthier food continues to grow.
While the chain started out as a restaurant in Chelsea, it has now become an affordable, healthy lunch destination across many parts of London.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the chain will step up its expansion this year, with founder Julian Metcalfe adamant that its offering can go head-to-head with fast food rivals.
He told the paper that the chain’s affordable, fast hot food ranges make it an attractive dinner location – in some shops, 40% of sales come in after 4pm.
Its latest accounts show it made a turnover of £68m in 2014, with pre-tax profits rising 33% to almost £7m.
All sushi is prepared on site, and the specialist equipment required to rinse the rice and package everything together costs up to £200,000 alone.
The cost of running each store also brings major overheads. In Oxford, where Itsu has been open for less than two years, the combined bill for rent and business rates totals around £500,000 a year – almost £10,000 a week, the paper said.
However, Metcalfe says the store is profitable, serving 8,500 people a week, despite being surrounded by fast-food chains.
He believes an average price of around £4 for a box of sushi is about right for the current food market.
“The prices of burger meals in fast-food chains have all gone up. At McDonald’s, a wrap meal is £4.69, so it’s not cheap. I’d rather spent £5 on sushi than £3 in most other places. It’s not just sushi we sell – our chicken noodle soups are selling like crazy – far better than we thought.”