The French number two in sushi, makis or other Japanese dishes placed in receivership since February 2020 must present a continuation plan before the Nanterre commercial court on Thursday.

It was one of the greatest French success stories in on-site catering and delivery of Japanese food: Planet Sushi, now launched over 22 years ago, is number two in the sector.

But the brand which owns 18 restaurants, around thirty franchised, and employs more than 350 people, has been in receivership since February 2020. In particular, heavy debts and an economic model weakened by competition from players in line of delivery, difficulties that occurred even before the health crisis.

According to Sunday Newspaper, the president-founder and sole shareholder of the company, Siben N’Ser, must present this Thursday to the commercial court of Nanterre a continuation plan to avoid an outright liquidation that would be considered. Remember that the group had already been placed in the safeguard procedure in 2014.

Liabilities of 16 million euros

“I will fight to the end. I am amazed that they are considering liquidating us and threatening 350 jobs while we are recovering, that we have overhauled our management” laments Siben N’Ser to the JDD. The latter emphasizes having generated 2.5 million euros in profit in the first half of the year.

Arguments that may appear insufficient to the court to validate the continuation plan. The company has a liability of 16 million euros for cash valued at 2 million euros for 40 million euros in turnover (compared to 63 million in 2018). “95% of our creditors follow us and our court administrators support us,” says the leader nonetheless.

The company also emphasizes having seen during the first confinement its activity increase “as never in 22 years of existence”.

According to Point, the former CEO of the La Pataterie group, Alexandre Maizoué, who left Groupe Planet Sushi in 2019 against a background of strategic disagreement, could participate in a takeover plan alongside a fund, Montefiore Investment, present in the capital of a another giant in the sector, Côté Sushi.

Superabundant offer

Despite a transformation plan initiated in 2019 (under the leadership of Alexandre Maizoué precisely), with an overhaul of its restaurants, Planet Sushi suffers like its competitors from an overabundant supply.

Charles-Henri Carboni, the judicial administrator in charge of the Planet Sushi case, declared two years ago: “Only the strongest survive”, a finding validated by the disappearance of certain actors like the chain Sushi West.

Physical points of sale have been undermined by “corner shops”, or sales kiosks. The brands that have chosen to sell in supermarkets and hypermarkets kiosks are not experiencing the sushi crisis. The precursor of this consumption model, Sushi Daily, has reached more than 250 points of sale in France alone since its opening in 2010.

The same goes for delivery at the heart of Planet Sushi’s business model, which has suffered from competition on Deliveroo or Uber Eats type platforms.

Olivier Chicheportiche BFM Business journalist

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