Eating out is one of the most common forms of leisure. Our responsibility to society is immense—particularly in these COVID and post-COVID times.
The impact of COVID-19 has been significant enough to change the raison d’etre of eating out and the structure of the restaurant industry. From a personal perspective, I have experienced first- hand both the difficulties of business continuity, and the importance of establishing systems that make business continuity possible.
On the other hand, the pandemic has also inspired in Japanese citizens a sense of solidarity—that we are each guardians of society. In this sense, I believe that 2020 will be a turning point for societies worldwide.
In line with societal changes, the meaning of “food” itself is beginning to shift. That is, changes in ifestyle—such as our response both to the new normal and increasing digitization—has resulted in eating alone becoming more widespread. “Food” is becoming more “functional.”
Yet if we focus solely on the functional aspect of food—intake of nutrition and calories—then there can be no future for the restaurant industry. The importance of eating out, I believe, lies elsewhere.
Eating out is one of the most common forms of leisure; indeed, the joy and excitement occasioned by eating out remains largely the same today as it always has. Experiencing the fun that eating can inspire, and enjoying the rich varieties of foods available—this enables diners to find small parcels of happiness in their everyday lives. The restaurant industry has a responsibility to society to provide people with such opportunities; and for this reason the existence of the restaurant industry is of great importance now more than ever.
Providing people around the world with rich varieties of foods
At the TORIDOLL Group, we wish to provide people all over the world with opportunities to experience the fun of eating and enjoy rich varieties of foods; to this end, we are in the process of expanding our global business. However, if we want to stimulate global demand for eating out, it is essential that people around the world are free from poverty and other difficulties, and that they ive in environments in which eating out can be enjoyed.
In other words, if our goal is continued growth, then we must direct our attention towards global sustainability as well.
The population in Japan is decreasing and ageing; globally, however, populations are continuing to increase. In order to expand, the TORIDOLL Group is of course identifying new markets in such regions, but we are also aware that serious societal issues abound: these include food crises, widening disparities, human rights issues, and climate change.
With regard to the global environment, we sense a great danger. If we continue on in our present fashion, then we run the risk of placing the very future of humanity in doubt. For this reason, at the TORIDOLL Group it is vital we reduce the amount of energy we use, look to renewable energy sources, and carefully implement energy-saving measures on a worldwide scale.
Poverty is becoming increasingly widespread in Japan, too. While poverty cannot be eradicated overnight, it is possible to support those in need. To this end, the TORIDOLL Group donates food to “children's cafeterias”—a project to provide free meals to impoverished children—and to kitchen car for the poor.
Of course, there are limits to what we at the TORIDOLL Group can achieve alone. Depending on the issues we wish to tackle, there may be times when cooperation with other companies in the restaurant industry is necessary. While methods of addressing problems are many, I feel that actively communicating our initiatives and raising awareness of societal issues is also of great importance.
Fulfilling our responsibility to society, and increasing support for our activities
At the TORIDOLL Group, our goal is to become “a truly global company.” If we wish to become a “global company” in the true sense of the phrase, then it is imperative we not only grow our business, but also fulfill—and are recognized as fulfilling—all manner of societal duties around the world.
We are engaged in initiatives that contribute to SDGs—a set of goals common to all nations—and to the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact*, and in this way we intend to gain the trust of people the world over.
In order to achieve sustainable growth, it is important we increase the number of supporters and well-wishers, both internally and externally, who will help sustain our Group in times of difficulty. If we want to increase the number of supporters and well-wishers who will support us not only in times of prosperity but also in times of adversity, I believe it is essential we engage with societal issues, and communicate our engagements to the wider world.In recent years, awareness of the importance of sustainability has grown among our customers; as such, I believe they will support our Group’s sustainability activities. Indeed, at the TORIDOLL
Group the future of society is always at the forefront of our minds—and I hope our customers will recognize this.
*In August 2020, the TORIDOLL Group became the first company in the restaurant industry to sign up to the UN Global Compact.
Breaking free from outdated cultures, and creating new value
In order to fully realize the initiatives and ideas I have discussed thus far, it is vital we transform the values of the restaurant industry. We must break free from the mold of its outdated culture, and become a company that continues to generate new values.
The “space creation” we carried out when relocating to our new Headquarters in 2019 is one example of this transformation in values. By creating a space in which people with all manner of ideas—and this includes not only company employees but also outside personnel—can interact in an innovative manner, we hope to encourage the creation of new values.
We are also reviewing work styles at our restaurants and offices. More specifically, we are considering how we can increase work opportunities for women and senior citizens, establish systems for reduced working hours, and enable our employees to combine their roles at TORIDOLL with jobs at other companies.
As a result of these initiatives, our employees have a great interest in sustainability activities.
Increasing the number of employees who are sensitive to societal issues, and who engage in resolving these issues, can only benefit our business.
I noted this above, but it is worth restating: there is a limit to what the TORIDOLL Group can achieve alone. Yet if we can elicit the cooperation of various stakeholders, supporters, and well-wishers, there is no doubt our strength will increase exponentially. The TORIDOLL Group’s sustainability activities are intended both as a means of safeguarding our earth, and of generating future profit. Going forward, we intend to embark on many new challenges; I look forward your continued understanding and support.
TORIDOLL Holdings Corporation
President and CEO