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Sushi Box unboxes its potential with Yoco Capital

When Sushi Box was looking to open new locations Yoco Capital was there to give them a boost. Christo Bornman chats about using Yoco Capital.
At a Sushi Box in Cape Town.

When it comes to getting access to capital, the challenges faced by small businesses are well documented. But big businesses struggle too.

What is Sushi Box?

Sushi Box is a Capetonian institution. Launched in 2013, the popular restaurant chain now boasts six outlets. The latest of these just opened at Constantia Uitsig. It brings the tantalising flavour of fresh sushi to the fantastic outlets on the wine estate, providing another great reason to visit the Heritage Market. For Christo Bornman, the owner and founder of Sushi Box, it’s just an honour to be there.

Christo Bornman, founder of Sushi Box.

Growing the business the right way

It fits right in with the other outlets, which include the Nest Deli, Alexander Avery Fine Chocolates, Aegir Brewery and Kristen’s Ice Cream. The deliciousness levels are off the charts. Sushi Box feels at home next to boutique outlets that value craft and quality above all.

A big part of that is because, despite its success, Sushi Box doesn’t feel like a big business with multiple branches. While the quality and service they’re known for is consistent across all six outlets, each one has its own character.

You never feel like a formula has been cut and pasted in a new location, diluting the charm that made it great in the first place. Instead, Sushi Box prefers to be a chameleon of sorts, adapting itself to blend in perfectly with its surroundings. And for Christo, those surroundings are absolutely crucial.

“Location is everything. Pay a premium and be in the best place. Also, never enter into a lease agreement in a new area or shopping mall – always wait for the second round of tenant evacuations. New areas take time to activate and even the strongest reputations die easily in a new precinct.”

Waiters at a Sushi Box in Constantia, Cape Town.

Location and quality

Wise words from someone who’s mastered the art of cherry-picking locations that are perfect for his purpose. After launching in Newlands in 2013, to much fanfare, Christo has relished the challenge of growing his business without compromising on quality. He refuses to dilute his brand. With successful outlets in locations such as the fabled Kloof Street, de Waterkant and now Constantia Uitsig, it’s fair to say that things are going well.

Quality is a huge part of that. Give people a great product at a reasonable price and they’ll keep coming back.

“There was nobody doing really fresh sushi at a reasonable price. Finding the sweet spot between price, service and quality is an ongoing challenge but the one thing Sushi Box will not compromise on is quality. That creates consistency, which builds trust, which leads to repeat business – so it’s a key focus area,” says Bornman.

All in all, Sushi Box is a prime example of a small business run so well that it became a local institution. After bursting onto the scene to rave reviews back in 2013, they’ve gone from strength to strength, becoming a pillar of Cape Town’s inner-city culture.

And yet, access to funding still proves challenging. When going through the traditional channels, the barriers to entry can prove discouraging. Even for a business like Sushi Box.

I think banks are waking up and realising the potential that needs to be unlocked to power growth in our economy. But Yoco firmly positioned itself as a partner to the restaurant and in today’s economic climate, partnerships are what makes us stronger.

A Yoco card machine at the till of Sushi Box.

Boosting with Yoco Capital

At the time of writing (October 2018), Sushi Box has received the largest capital advance from us yet. By far. And, as ever, Christo’s business acumen will see the cash invested wisely. He plans to kit out the new Constantia Uitsig store in style, boosting the venue’s decor and staff ahead of peak sushi season – summer.

Christo has been impressed with Yoco from day one and we’re delighted that Yoco Capital has proven so valuable to his business. He could have opted to seek funding elsewhere, but his relationship with us meant that it was never an option he seriously considered. That’s a compliment we’re happy to receive!

“Since the early days, no matter what time, day or night, Yoco gets things done so efficiently and it always leaves us impressed. The passive payback means we can leap forward without taking a single step back. We’d definitely use it again in the future.”

Be sure to head through to Constantia to visit the freshest Sushi Box yet. You can find out more about the business and view their menu on their website.

Read more about Yoco Capital.

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