Eating out is one of the most common forms of leisure. Our responsibility to society is immense—especially in these COVID and post-COVID times.
The impact of COVID-19 has been significant enough to change the "purpose of eating out as well as 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 "our" society. In this sense, I believe that 2020 was a turning point for societies worldwide.
In line with societal changes, the meaning of “food” itself is beginning to shift. Lifestyle changes such as our response 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— there will 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; the fun and excitement of eating out every now and then remains largely the same today as it has always been. Experiencing the joy that eating brings, and enjoying the rich varieties of foods available—this enables diners to find small morsels 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 more important now 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 achieve this, we are in the process of expanding our global business. However, if we want to stimulate global demand for eating out, people all over the world should be free of poverty and other challenges; and they live in environments where eating out is enjoyable and not a luxury reserved for a select few.
In other words, if our goal is continued growth, we must direct our attention towards global sustainability.
The population in Japan is shrinking and ageing; however, global population continues to grow. The TORIDOLL Group is identifying new markets in regions with a projected population growth as part of our expansion plan, but we are also aware that each region have their fair share of glaring societal issues, such as 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 our current trajectory, we will be putting the very future of humanity in jeopardy. To play our part, it is vital that we, the TORIDOLL Group, reduce our energy consumption, look to renewable energy sources, and carefully implement energy-saving measures on a global 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 contributes food to school cafeterias—a project to provide free meals to underprivileged children—and to food trucks 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 there are many different approaches to addressing the problems, 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 be recognized for fulfilling—all manner of societal duties around the world.
We are engaged in initiatives that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—a set of goals common to all nations—and to the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact*; we hope to gain the trust of people all over the world by doing this.
In order to achieve sustainable growth, it is important we gain buy-in both internally and externally and increase the number of people who would support us and wish us well during this journey. To increase the number of supporters and well-wishers who will support us through thick and thin, I believe it is essential we engage with societal issues, and communicate our engagements to everyone.
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. at 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 pledge 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 “creation space” 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 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 to your continued understanding and support.
TORIDOLL Holdings Corporation
President and CEO