Yo! Sushi has bought Bento Sushi, North America’s second largest sushi brand, in a £59m deal.
Bento, founded in Toronto in 1996 by Ken Valvur is the largest sushi brand in Canada, trading from more than 600 locations, and supplies sushi to a further 1,700 partner sites.
It operates across a range of formats including quick-service restaurants, on-site kiosks in supermarkets and other foodservice locations. It also has a number of production facilities which supply sushi to grocery and institutional foodservice clients across North America.
The company delivered compound annual sales growth of 16% over the past three years and Bento and its licensees employ over 2,000 sushi chefs.
Bento’s chairman Ken Valvur and chief executive Glenn Brown both join the board of Yo! Sushi as part of the deal and become significant shareholders in the combined group.
The acquisition, which values Bento at CAN $100m (£59m) has been backed by Mayfair Equity Partners, which partnered the Yo! management team as part of a management buyout in 2015.
Yo! Sushi said that the combined business would make it one of the largest sushi companies outside Japan, providing an international, multi-brand, multi-channel offering.
The combined businesses have recorded sales of approximately £175m over the past 12 months.
Yo! Sushi, which has more than 70 restaurants has been working to secure a foothold in the North American market in recent years. Recently it wrote-down some of its assets in the US after taking a more “prudent” view of its move there.
It has since shifted its strategy away from franchised sites in shopping malls in the US and is now focusing on company-owned downtown hubs in cities such as Boston and Manhattan.
Robin Rowland, chief executive officer of Yo!, said: “We’ve successfully reinvigorated the business over the past two years to ensure the foundations are in place for long-term growth. This acquisition takes Yo! into the next stage of its development, and creates the first global multi-channel Japanese food purveyor. Bento’s proposition and its management team’s strong track record make it the ideal partner for Yo! as we look to further grow our brand.”
Glenn Brown, chief executive officer of Bento Sushi, stated: “This partnership presents Bento with an incredible opportunity to grow its platform. Yo! and Bento share a similar ethos and history, and we look forward to working with the YO! team and taking advantage of opportunities to develop both brands.”
Ken Valvur, chairman of Bento Sushi, added: “The combination of Yo! and Bento will further enhance our group’s ability to be the partner of choice for grocery and institutional food service providers throughout our enlarged operating geography, and creates exciting opportunities for our valued team members on both sides of the Atlantic.
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