LEGAL | Staff Reporter, UK

Up to 12 Wasabi stores may shut down after restructuring launch

The brand has also been talking to landlords regarding rent.

Wasabi is now the latest sushi retailer to launch a restructuring plan which could see up to 12 stores shut after sales were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company, which employs more than 1,500 and runs 51 sushi and bento shops across the UK, revealed it was “impacted profoundly” by lockdown measures in March.

The chain, which sold a minority stake to investment firm Capdesia last year, said it will restructure its finances and operations, and receive fresh capital from its investors if the proposals are approved.

“Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, Wasabi had been performing strongly on the back of the investment and operational improvements we had made during 2019,” Wasabi chief executive Henry Brits said.

“However, the extraordinary impact of Covid-19 on trading has meant that we now need to take additional steps to address our fixed cost-base if we are to secure the long-term future of our business.”

Brits added that they have had “constructive engagement” with landlords in recent weeks regarding better alignment of the rents of certain sites in proportion with footfall and trading.

“We strongly believe that this turnaround programme will provide us with a stable platform upon which we can emerge from this difficult period as a healthy and sustainable business, for our staff, suppliers and loyal customers,” he said.

Will Wright and David Costley-Wood of KPMG have been nominated to advise over the restructuring.

“With large numbers of city centre workers and tourists remaining at home, grab and go food retailers have been some of those businesses most significantly affected by the Covid-19 crisis,” KPMG head of leisure restructuring Paul Berkovi said.

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