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The philosophy of "contributing to society through by providing food services" has always been the foundation for our operations. Over the years, we have grown into an organization that welcomes more than 30 million guests every year to our restaurants, which serve primarily Japanese cuisine. In 2018, we are celebrating our 50th anniversary as we look ahead to even more accomplishments in the future.
I am extremely grateful to the customers of our group's restaurants, our suppliers and other business partners, our shareholders, and our employees. The support of everyone was vital to our ability to reach this important anniversary.
I became the president of this company on April 1st, 2017. Six months later, we made the transition to a holding company structure and changed our company name to SRS HOLDINGS CO., LTD. on October 1st, 2017. As a result, our group consists of the holding company and operating companies. Major group companies are SATO FOODSERVICE CO., LTD., which operates Washoku Sato, Santen and Meotozenzai; FOODSNET CORPORATION, which operates Nigiri Chojiro, Nigiri Chujiro and Miyakobito; MIYAMOTO MUNASHI CO., LTD., which operates Miyamoto Munashi; SATO・ARCLAND FOODSERVICE CO., LTD., which operates Katsuya; and SRS TAIWAN COMPANY LIMITED, which operates Washoku Sato in Taiwan. The pace of change in Japan's restaurant industry is accelerating. Using the holding company structure to separate the management strategy and business strategy sides allows us to reach decisions faster. Another advantage is the ability of each operating company to take actions on its own to become more competitive. This gives us a stronger foundation for growth. In addition, the holding company structure allows each group company to develop its own next generation of executives.
In Japan, there is a steady increase in the number of working women as well as dual-income households. The number of single households is also climbing and, as Japan's population ages, there is also growth in the number of seniors living alone. As these social shifts take place in Japan, the business climate for the SRS Group is evolving at an increasing speed. More increases are likely in the cost of labor and raw materials. We must also adapt to the rising number of people who use IT devices and we must utilize advances in artificial intelligence. Another important trend is more foreign tourists in Japan. Furthermore, we foresee more competition as the market for buying meals that replace food prepared at home continues to expand.
To respond to these challenges and opportunities, we replaced the medium-term business plan that started in 2014 with Project MIRAI in May 2018. This new medium-term business plan has the following five central themes.
The second theme will be critically important in order to reshape our restaurant operations to deal with the expected labor shortage and increase in the cost of labor. Restaurants with operations that require large numbers of people will soon no longer be able to succeed. More people mean higher prices that make businesses less competitive and limit growth. Our group must end the reliance on labor-intensive business models. Improving efficiency will require initiatives for boosting productivity and closely managing the use of people. This is a major reason for our switch to a holding company structure on October 1, 2017 and the establishment at the same time of the Innovative Operation Development Department.
All operating companies are using the guidelines of Project MIRAI to aim for growth while adapting to the remarkably fast changes that are redefining our markets. SRS Holdings will support these activities by overseeing the allocation of people, capital and other resources to these companies. Alliances, M&A and other strategic measures as well are the responsibility of the holding company. Our objective is "to continue to grow and prosper for more than 100 years by functioning as an essential part of the social infrastructure and providing food services that contribute to society."
Masahiko ShigesatoPresident, CEO