Shai started as a catering company in 1986, offering Japanese-style lunches to mostly Japanese clientele in the City. But when yuppies of all races started popping sushi like chips, Shai moved into the mainstream market. Considering itself a pioneer in its industry, it operates a noodle bar by St. Paul’s, a sushi bar near Edgware road, and a third sushi bar in the City. The company’s real growth has come from joint ventures, says chief executive, Hiromitsu Mochizuki, one of Shai’s three Japanese directors. In 1994, it signed a contract to set up a sushi bar in Harrods. Pret-a-Manger contracted the company in 1996 to supply its Japanese cuisine. It also has relationships with Selfridges, Ashai Brewery, and the Mitsui Corporation, which helped fund a sushi bar near the Paris opera. All of the food is made by Shai’s London-based sushi factory. Seven experienced chefs, each of whom have received ten years of training in Japan, cook and offer advice to customers. Sales have grown from £673k in 1994 to £3.4m in 1997.
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