Japanese restaurant chain cuts business costs, reaps profits Often a model for economic inefficiency, Japan has some good news on its hands as its manufacturing activity and electronics industries have seen growth in recent months. Moreover, one restaurant chain there has streamlined its supply chain as it cuts business costs and reaps hefty profits.

Kura, a revolving sushi chain, says that efficiency is king at its restaurants throughout the country. While there are no human chefs or myriad waiters at their restaurant locations, there are robots that produce sushi at a fast clip and conveyor belts that deliver food to patrons. Kura's robotic efficiency at its 262 restaurants is monitored by managers from three control centers across the country.

Through its elimination of traditional chefs and waiters, Kura has achieved big-time profits in a country that is still struggling to emerge from the lost decade of the 1990s. As many Japanese restaurants report bleak earnings, in the company's most recent fiscal year, Kura reported that net profit had leaped by 20 percent from the same period in 2009.

Kura affirms that it also cuts back on business costs through its automated menus and that in general, there are just six servers and minimal kitchen staff in each of its restaurants - which seat around 196 people on average. Kura's spokesman, Takeshi Hattori, asserts that the restaurants are also pleasing customers even as they provide a scaled-back approach to dining: "It's not just about efficiency. Diners love it too. For example, women say they like clearing finished plates right away, so others can’t see how much they’ve eaten."
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