The company, which was founded in 2003, has employed KPMG’s restructuring team to advise on its strategic options. It is looking to move towards a variable, turnover-based system, which links payments to the turnover achieved at each site,for its 51 restaurants, 42 of which are in London and heavily reliant on office workers and tourists.
"This is a very challenging time for our industry and the future for all of us is highly uncertain. Pre-Covid we had a thriving brand and business, known for its high quality, fresh, fast and excellent value offer,” says Wasabi CEO, Henry Birts.
“There is now a big question mark over how and when demand will recover, and as it does we then have the challenge of managing capacity and speed of service in our kitchens and front of house alongside restrictions around social distancing.
“We are working extremely hard to flex our operating model in the light of this uncertainty, but this is not going to work unless our fixed costs, primarily our rents, also reflect this economic reality.”
Wasabi is one of a number of hospitality businesses looking to move to a turnover-based rental model as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, which is likely to lead to a significant drop in footfall in what were previously prime locations – and which have rents.
Birts says he is confident of Wasabi’s future progress if it successful in these negotiations.
He says: “It is nevertheless our belief that with the support of all of our stakeholders, including our landlords, we can adapt to once again be a healthy and sustainable business, preserving jobs, playing our part in the broader economic recovery and continuing to serve our customers both safely and efficiently."