Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain led by Henry Birts and backed by Capdesia, has appointed the restructuring team at KPMG to advise on its strategic options and assist with ongoing discussions with landlords regarding current rental arrangements.
The business, which was founded in 2003, is looking to move towards a variable, turnover-based system with regard to rents on its 51 stores, 42 of which are in London and heavily reliant on office workers and tourists. Birts told Propel: “This is a very challenging time for our industry and the future for all of us is highly uncertain.
Pre-covid-19, we had a thriving brand and business, known for its high-quality, fresh, fast and excellent value offer. 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. It is nevertheless our belief 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.”
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