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Startups

Exclusive: SoftBank-backed Oyo torn between profits and growth

Rookie staff and angry hoteliers undermine 'Project Yukichi' for Japan domination

Oyo's ambitious but budget-conscious sales strategy in Japan highlights the startup's tough balancing act as it pursues both growth and profitability. (Photo by Yuki Kohara)

TOKYO -- Oyo, the SoftBank Group-backed discount hotel chain, is almost doubling its sales staff in Japan to try to boost profitability and reach its vaunted goal of becoming the country's biggest hotel chain by next year, the Nikkei Asian Review has learned.

In an apparently contradictory move, however, the push for profitability is also causing the India-based startup to scale back revenue guarantees aimed at persuading hotel owners to sign up to its platform, and has even canceled some existing agreements. Several hotels are now canceling their contracts, multiple sources told Nikkei.

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