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Japan: Hooters announces contest finalists on day of bankruptcy filing

TOKYO (TR) – To be filed under: Weathering the storm.

On the same day that the Japan-based operator of the U.S. restaurant chain Hooters filed for bankruptcy protection, the company announced the finalists in a waitress popularity contest.

Research firm Teikoku Databank said that HJ Inc., located in Shinjuku Ward, initiated bankruptcy proceedings with 560 million yen in liabilities under the Civil Rehabilitation Law at the Tokyo District Court on Monday.

That same day, the 15 finalists in the “Miss Hooters Japan Contest 2019” were revealed on the web site. The ladies, who were selected through a customer vote and a team of judges, are employed at each of the six outlets of the chain.

HJ opened the first outlet of Hooters, which is known for its busty waitresses attired in tank tops and shorts, in Japan in 2010 with the branch in the Akasaka area of Minato Ward.

Miss Hooters Japan Contest
Miss Hooters Japan Contest

Once boasted 7 branches

After expansion into the Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka markets, the chain once boasted 7 branches. In 2016, sales at HJ peaked at 1.77 billion yen.

However, sales slumped to 1.51 billion yen in 2018, sending the company’s bottom line into the red. The company closed the Fukuoka outlet at the end of last month.

The six remaining outlets in Japan will continue to operate, with a new operator expected to take over the businesses, Teikoku Databank said.

The winners of the “Miss Hooters Japan Contest 2019” will be revealed at an event at the Shinjuku branch on April 15. Ticket prices start at 5,000 yen.