A sushi bar called "Sushi Izu", has opened in the Woolworths supermarket at Cooleman Court, Weston Creek. Manager, Christina Ho, with a tray of freshly made sushi. Photo: Graham Tidy
Four partners operating Mr Sushi outlets in Canberra say they chose Cooleman Court because there were no other sushi stores there.
No sooner had they opened than Woolworths introduced its first sushi outlet in the ACT, with a franchise partner operating in-store.
A multi-national sushi supplier, Advanced Fresh Concepts International arrived in Australia about two years ago in partnership with Woolworths.
They opened in NSW 18 months ago, and their first "Sushi Izu" franchise store in the ACT opened on Wednesday at Cooleman Court. Others are expected in Gungahlin and Kippax next week, and then Mawson next month.
Franchisee Sin Wong has four staff and will trade from 8am to 6pm. Shoppers select from his counter and pay at the cash registers at the front of the supermarket.
A Woolworths spokeswoman said the ACT opening was part of a national approach on ready-to-eat food, and was not in response to any specific shopping centre's other retail offering.
Mr Sushi is owned by Canberra and overseas investors, with outlets in Gungahlin and Wanniassa, as well as the new one at Cooleman Court. More are planned for the future.
A partner, Daniel Lok, said Woolworths's AFC opening was coincidental.
AFC's "Sushi Izu" franchises are being advertised for between $35,000 and $75,000.
Another national franchise, Hero Sushi, opened at Tuggeranong about a year ago, and has opened another outlet recently at Woden Plaza.
A Canberra sushi chain operator who asked not to be named said the market within malls was getting too crowded to make a profit.
"Sushi is precious when made traditionally. Restaurant sushi has nice quality and presentation. When it is mass produced, it is low quality."
He said shopping centre owners once maintained an even mix of retailers, but lately shops struggling to pay their rent had left, leaving unfilled floor space.
As a consequence, mall operators did not care as much about an even mix of retailers. At Woden, three outlets were now within close proximity of one another.
"The average price (for a hand roll) now is $2.50 to $3.50. At $2.50 you cannot produce quality sushi."