Suddenly and unceremoniously, Zensho, the operator of Wendy’s Japan, has announced it will discontinue its licensing deal with the Wendy’s parent company and shut down all 71 restaurants under the hamburger chain’s brand by the end of this month.
There is a brief statement on the chain’s website announcing the decision (the URL oddly misspells “Wendies”) thanking everyone for their service and patronage and inviting everyone to visit a Wendy’s before it’s too late. But it doesn’t exactly tell us why this is happening. The Nikkei Shimbun and Wall Street Journal pass on statements from officials at Zensho stating that while Wendy’s had started to turn a profit, they wanted to focus management resources on their mainstay business, the Sukiya beef bowl chain.
The closure means 1900 part time workers will lose their jobs. According to the Nikkei, Zensho is offering to help them find work at neighboring stores, though in this tough environment I am sure many will have trouble finding new work immediately.
Although I rarely ate at Wendy’s, knowing it was there was comforting as an expat American. Also, at various points in my stay here Wendy’s has served as a meeting place and landmark. It will be very sad to see it go! One can only hope Burger King, which has made a recent return to Japan, will take over some of the former Wendy’s locations.