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December 12, 2009

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Wendy's to end 7-year Japan presence

WENDY'S burger chain will withdraw from Japan, ending a seven-year presence in an Asian market long dominated by McDonald's Corp.

Zensho Co, which runs America's No. 3 hamburger chain in Japan, said yesterday it will end a contract with Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc.

Zensho began operating Wendy's in Japan in 2002 and has 71 Wendy's burger stores across the nation. But the company said they will be closed by the end of December.

"We will focus our resources on beef bowl restaurants and others. The closure is part of our business plans," said a Zensho spokesman, who declined to be named, citing department policy.

Wendy's in Japan posted 6.2 billion yen (US$70 million) in sales in the previous fiscal year to March 2009.

Japan's burger business has long been dominated by McDonald's, which is said to enjoy around a 65-percent market share.

McDonald's -- the world's biggest fast-food chain -- opened its first burger store in Tokyo's glitzy Ginza district in 1971. Since then, the number of McDonald's shops in Japan has swelled to 3,720.

Burger King Corp -- the world's No. 2 hamburger chain -- has 16 outlets in Japan. It withdrew from Japan in 2001, partly after losing a price war with McDonald's, but returned to the market in 2007.

Besides the American burger giants, Japanese also enjoy local burger chains, including Mos Burger.


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