Wasabi, the grab and go sushi and bento retailer, has announced the launch of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) proposal.
Founded in 2003 and employing over 1,500 staff, Wasabi operates a total of 51 sushi and bento shops in the UK, the majority of which are located in central London.
In common with many businesses operating across the sector, the company has been impacted profoundly by the onset of lockdown measures resulting from the global Covid-19 pandemic.
With the likelihood of future trading continuing to be adversely affected by ongoing social distancing measures, the gradual return to the workplace of office workers in London and the reduction in tourism, Wasabi is undertaking a financial and operational restructuring programme which will see additional investment from the operator’s investors, conditional on the approval of a CVA.
Henry Birts, CEO of Wasabi said: “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.
“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.
“In recent weeks, we have had constructive engagement with landlords regarding better alignment of the rents of certain sites in proportion with footfall and trading, and we will continue to work closely with them over the days ahead.
“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.”
Will Wright and David Costley-Wood from KPMG’s Restructuring practice are the proposed nominees of the CVA.
Paul Berkovi, KPMG’s head of leisure restructuring, added: “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. With the outlook remaining uncertain, Wasabi is taking decisive action to safeguard its future.”