Overall ranking: 79 (new entry)
Restaurateur ranking: 30 (new entry)
Wagamama is one of the UK's original Japanese-inspired restaurant groups, having launched its first restaurant in Bloomsbury in 1992 under founder Alan Yau. In 1997 the group was bought out by Ian Neill and Graphite Capital, who helped to steer the brand's meteoric growth. It was sold for £102.5m to private equity firm Lion Capital in 2005, which in turn sold it in 2011 to Duke Street Capital. Chief executive officer Jane Holbrook took charge of Wagamama at a time when the pan-Asian restaurant group was entering an ambitious new phase. She joined as chief financial officer in 2014 before rising to chief operating officer to assist in the group's Kaizen Project, a Japanese word meaning constant improvement and regeneration, which will see the restaurants refurbished and the chain expand overseas. When former chief executive David Campbell stepped down in April 2016, Holbrook took over to drive the project forward.
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