Japanese restaurant chain Watamai to close all eateries in mainland China due to Coronavirus outbreak

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Sales from major Japanese dining franchise fell to about 10 per cent in January.

The Japan Times reports Watami, a major food and beverage chain, announced on Tuesday that it will close all seven directly operated stores in mainland China.

Customers dropped sharply with the expansion of the new coronavirus. Sales from late January fell to about 10% in the same period of the previous year, and there is no prospect of convergence or recovery in customer traffic, it said.

The seven outlets to be shut are in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Suzhou and Guangzhou. However, four outlets run as franchises in mainland China, and eateries in Hong Kong and Taiwan will continue operations.

The restaurant – which turns over around EUR 168 million a year – serves traditional Japanese dishes including ones with Norwegian salmon. The company has been around since 1992 but entered mainland China in 2005.

A Watami spokesperson told the publication: “We have no idea when the crisis will be brought under control. We’ll face difficulties continuing the operations of our outlets if the number of customers stays at the current level.”