Richard Hodgson, the chief executive of YO! Sushi told MCA’s Food To Go Conference this week that he has identified 700 Tesco stores where the group could open a kiosk.
The brand launched the partnership in October last year at two stores - Sunbury-on-Thames Extra and Bournemouth Extra – and Hodgson said both sides had deliberately taken their time to ensure the offer was right before rollout.
Hodgson said he had chosen Tesco as the right partner because of its relative under-exposure to the sushi market at present and the scale of the opportunity.
He added: “Waitrose has 5% of the grocery market in the UK but 50% of the sushi market. This is still a very immature and underdeveloped market and our belief is that there is a long way to go. Today only one in five adults consume sushi, in the US it’s one in three, in Canada - one in two. Increasing penetration by 2%p a year. We think it will overtime become a popular category and so we want to be with the biggest retailer.
“When I was marketing director at Asda we could not sell olives. Now you walk in there and there’s two bays of olives. Different cuisines become mainstream pretty quickly.
“Tesco has over 3,000 outlets and we have identified 700 that will host a sushi counter. Assuming we can find the people to run them we will be in 700 Tescos. We’ll do that ASAP. We are all guilty of schizophrenia in this sector, we say we need to roll out at pace and get to critical mass but we also don’t want to make mistakes so we’re aware there’s tension there. We’ll do this as quickly as we can but we will be careful in doing it.”