Wagamama plans to launch a spin-off food-to-go brand and roll out further delivery kitchens over the next 12 months, its new owners have said.
The pan-Asian casual dining chain was acquired by The Restaurant Group last year for £559m and in its latest results it identified a series of steps to enhance the brand.
That includes a new grab-and-go concept, which is to be branded ‘Mamago’. It will offer a newly-developed Asian menu to capitalise on increased customer demand for convenience.
TRG confirmed that the initial pilot is planned for launch in the second half of this year.
Meanwhile, the company said the Wagamama delivery kitchen in Battersea has been successfully trialled and it now intends to roll out further delivery kitchens in the year. It has not disclosed how many it is looking to open.
TRG believes there is significant potential to drive further growth at Wagamama, particularly as it consistently outperforms the market average on experience ratings in healthiness of food, convenience and speed.
It expects to open between three to four new restaurants this year in the UK, as well as converting eight of its existing Leisure sites to Wagamama. The eight TRG sites collectively make a “modest” profit today but it expects them to generate incremental EBITDA returns in excess of 50% of the cost of capital to convert. They are due to open between August and November 2019.
The business has also won a tender for a site in Heathrow Terminal 3, which is due to open in the second half of this year, and a site has also been secured in the planned redevelopment of Manchester airport and is due to open in the first half of 2020. TRG said it is exploring a variety of other airport opportunities.
Meanwhile, it is also developing its drinks range to help drive higher participation, while its vegan range is being expanded with a new collaboration hero dish ‘Avant Gard’n’, which features a vegan ‘egg’, being launched in partnership with vegan chef Gaz Oakley.
TRG said it is planning six major Wagamama refurbishments this year, which will add 300 additional covers, the equivalent of two new restaurants.