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Kura Sushi USA files for IPO on Nasdaq

American subsidiary of Japanese chain plans to operate 290 restaurants

Kura also has 18 sushi restaurants in Taiwan, where it may eventually list on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

TOKYO -- Japanese sushi restaurant chain Kura announced on Thursday that its American subsidiary, Kura Sushi USA, has applied to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to list shares on the Nasdaq composite.

The request for the initial public offering is part of the subsidiary's plan to increase the number of its conveyor-belt sushi outlets in the U.S. to 290 or more from the current 22.

Kura Sushi USA's sales totaled about $51.74 million (5.6 billion yen) in its financial year ended August 2018.

Founded in 2008, the American chain has operations in the states of California, Texas, Georgia, Illinois and Nevada. In response to the growing popularity of conveyor-belt sushi in U.S., the subsidiary plans to increase the number by about 20% annually over the next five years.

In addition to the U.S. and Japan, Kura operates 18 sushi restaurants in Taiwan.

Kura President Kunihiko Tanaka has indicated there may be more IPOs to come. "In overseas regions where we are operate, we hope to eventually list our stock on local exchanges," he said.

The company may apply to list on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, though no date was given.

Meanwhile, Pepper Food Service's renowned Ikinari! Steak restaurant chain recently backed out of the U.S. market due to dwindling sales.

The company had kicked off its foreign expansion in 2017 with its first overseas store in New York. The steakhouse was initially well-received thanks to high-quality steaks priced at about $20. At one point it counted 11 stores in the U.S. But after the hype subsided, the company struggled to keep American diners interested, leading to the closure of seven stores in February.

Pepper Food also announced its decision to delist from the Nasdaq after going public in September of 2018. It was the first Japanese restaurant operator to list via American depository receipts, a mechanism to trade foreign stocks in the U.S.

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