Wagamama warns of price hikes as it faces recruitment struggles

CEO Thomas Heier also revealed plans to expand the 147-strong UK chain.

Wagamama said it is facing difficulty in hiring chefs across nearly a fifth of its restaurants as the sector battles amidst a "perfect storm" of supply chain and staff woes.

Thomas Heier, the Pan-Asian group’s recently appointed chief executive, detailed that he was struggling to fill chef vacancies in around 30 sites.

Brexit, he said, was impacting the number of European workers looking for jobs in the UK, but also cited tough competition in the recruitment market as logistics firms are resorting to wage hikes and cash bonuses to respond to lorry and delivery driver shortages.

“We’ve seen a reduction in our EU workforce in particular, but the other thing we’re seeing is increased competition from logistics and delivery firms who are struggling with an increased number of vacancies,” Heier said to the PA news agency.

“It’s a perfect storm of higher than normal demand, with supply chain challenges in the mix and a shortage of staff on the logistics side,” he added.

Whilst the business is not in a position where it is desperately short of chefs or ingredients, Heier warned it could lead to rising food prices.

“I don’t think we or anyone else are out of the water yet,” he shared.

Heier also revealed plans to expand the 147-strong UK chain, aiming to have another 40 sites over the next five years, including delivery kitchens.

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