Company News

Wendy's to exit Japan, 71 restaurants to close

* Says will not renew agreement with Japan franchisee

* All 71 Wendy’s outlets in Japan will close

* Company says closures not material to company results

LOS ANGELES, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc WEN.N said an agreement with its Japan franchisee will expire at year end, resulting in the closure of 71 Wendy's restaurants in a fast food market dominated by McDonald's Corp MCD.N.

Wendy’s has been in Japan since 1980 and most of its stores are located in and around Tokyo.

The closure of the Japan restaurants should be completed by the end of this month and will not be material to Wendy’s results, a spokesman said on Friday.

The fast-food restaurant operator said its international unit made the decision after it was unable to reach new terms for more development of the Wendy's brand in Japan with Zensho Co Ltd 7550.T, a large food retailer that controls Nihon Wendies, its Japan franchisee.

According to published reports, Zensho made the decision to devote financial resources to its other businesses.

“Japan is an important market, and we intend to pursue new development opportunities in the country with new franchisees or joint venture partners,” said Andy Skehan senior vice president, Wendy’s/Arby’s International.

Wendy’s shares were down 0.74 percent to $4.03 in midday trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; editing by Andre Grenon)