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From bread baker to sushi king, how Sushi Hub took over the market

There’s a big difference between being a franchisee and starting your own franchise. It’s something the owners of Sushi Hub discovered when they traded in their bread baking hats for a different kind of roll.

The suburb of Cabramatta in Sydney’s west is usually associated with Vietnamese cuisine, but the bustling shopping strip is also where a fast growing Japanese franchise got its start.
 
Sushi Hub was set up by Raymond Chen and friends James Chen and Leon Li in 2006.
 
They have 40 stores across the country, and serve 13 million sushi rolls a year.
 
“We have six million customers a year and in terms of turnover it’s over $40 million a year now,” Mr Chen told SBS.
 
But Mr Chen’s business career actually started across the road – as a franchisee of the bakery chain, Bread Top in 2005.
 
Mr Chen said the trio felt confident in the lessons they’d learned as franchisees and decided to become business managers, and franchisors, themselves.
 
“It’s more responsibility, everything is on yourself,” Mr Chen explains.
 
“Being a franchisee you can follow the rules and do what people tell you to do. But having your own business you cannot, you have to design everything yourself.”
 
In ten years Sushi Hub has steadily grown and is now a major player in the market.
 
At least six more stores will open by August, and it’s hoped another 50 will be operating by 2020.
 
Mr Chen said a slow and steady approach along with strict quality control systems have been the key to the company’s success.
 
To become a franchisee of Sushi Hub employees need to have worked in the business for at least five years and undergo specific training.
 
“Quality control is the number one concern for us for running a food business and that’s why we’ve been very careful of selecting our franchisees,” Mr Chen said.
 
The 33-year-old’s family has supported him throughout his business ventures.
 
After coming to Australia as an international student in high school, Raymond said he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s been able to seize.
 
“We were very lucky to have support from the family at the beginning when we were pretty young to start a business,” Mr Chen said.
 
“It’s a very fair society and a very fair environment for doing business. I’m very, very lucky to be in this country and to have opportunity…and we’re very thankful.”