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Japan operator of Hooters goes bust

TOKYO (TR) – The Japan-based operator of the U.S. restaurant chain Hooters has filed for bankruptcy protection, a research firm revealed on Tuesday.

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.

HJ was founded in 2005. The company opened the first outlet of Hooters, which is known for its busty waitresses attired in tank tops and shorts, in Japan five years later with the branch in the Akasaka area of Minato Ward.

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.

Fukuoka Hooters
The Fukuoka City outlet of restaurant chain Hooters closed earlier this year

Expansion over five-year period

Upon the opening of the Fukuoka outlet in 2017, HJ said that it had plans to add six other restaurants in Japan over the next five years.

“As the center of administration, economy and travel in the Kyushu region, Fukuoka is an excellent location for the country’s newest Hooters restaurant,” said Mark Whittle, chief development officer, Hooters of America, LLC, according to “The HJ, Inc. team continues to do a tremendous job introducing the Hooters brand to Japan.”

However, sales sagged 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.