Wasabi 'in a strong position to grow' as it plans for the future

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Wasabi 'in a strong position to grow' as it plans for the future

Related tags Wasabi Casual dining Multi-site Sushi Coronavirus expansion CVA

Sushi and bento brand Wasabi says it is in a 'strong position to grow' as Covid restrictions ease, and is in the process of building a new openings programme.

The London-centric chain recently launched a new site in London Bridge, and expects to open four or five more during the rest of the year, including one in Bishopsgate.

Wasabi was one of a number of prominent grab-and-go high street brands to enter a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA)​ last year to help protect the business against the profound impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Henry Birts, CEO of Wasabi, has confirmed to BigHospitality ​that nine sites in Wasabi's then 51-strong estate were closed as a result of the CVA.

"The CVA was approved in late summer 2020 and this allowed the business to take the necessary action required to get to its strong current position," he says.

"Of course 2020 was a challenge as it was for everyone in hospitality, but the number of store closures was kept to a minimum with the majority coming to the end of their leases naturally. 

"Now we can get on with opening new stores, a process which has already begun with London Bridge opening in January and continues through 2021 and beyond."

Wasabi now operates an estate of 43 sites, 39 of which have so far reopened.

The group recently strengthened its senior team with Tom Sugarman, previously of Pret, joining as operations director; Sam Bourke, formerly of ETM Group and The Restaurant Group, coming on board as marketing director; and Kate Lucas joining as managing director for Wasabi's emerging grocery business.

“I am delighted to welcome Tom, Sam and Kate to the Wasabi team," continues Birts.

"They are all extremely experienced and high calibre leaders with excellent track records who I am sure will be instrumental in driving the long term growth of this amazing brand.  

"Over the recent lockdown, we’ve seen sales building steadily through takeaway and delivery, especially in residential areas, and now we’re in a good position to take advantage as people finally venture out again. 

"In addition, the grocery arm of our business has been very strong with sales of our ready meals and expanded range in Sainsbury's proving extremely popular.

"It’s been a very tough year for the whole team who have done an extraordinary job in working through the many challenges we have faced and for which I thank them whole-heartedly.  

"We are now looking forward to the recovery of our whole sector and a bright future for Wasabi.”

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