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Mexican restaurant group Wahaca closes 10 sites

27 August 2020 by

Wahaca has confirmed it has permanently closed ten sites and is exploring various financial options including a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

The announcement was made "with great sadness" by chief executive and co-founder Mark Selby in an email to employees with the subject line: "The hardest email I have ever had to send".

He said the financial pressures faced by the business included the impact of the coronavirus shutdown, long-term increases in rents and business rates in city centres, where the majority of Wahaca restaurants are located, which had risen by up to 70% in the last five years, and the "uncertainty of the post-lockdown trading environment". The combination, he explained, made a number of sites untenable.

Sites that will not be reopening are Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, Bristol, Chichester, Manchester, Liverpool, Southampton and four London sites - Brixton, Charlotte Street, St Paul's and Kentish Town.

Selby said: "I apologise from the bottom of my heart to all of our teams who will be affected by this. Wherever we can we are going to try and save jobs."

He added that the business would be working with landlords to manage the impact of the decision which followed the depletion of "significant cash reserves" over the past four months.

He also confirmed the company had raised new equity to allow the business to continue with a return to growth "in the new world" and would now "positively focus itself on the future" with its reopening programme and an ongoing dedication to its core offering.

The Catey award winning group was founded by Selby and former MasterChef champion Thomasina Miers. The first Wahaca restaurant opened in London's Covent Garden in 2007. The group went on to be named the UK's first carbon neutral restaurant business, winning awards for their sustainable ethos.

Selby added: "Tommi and I set out to prove 12 years ago that you could build and grow a truly sustainable business whilst introducing the UK to a new type of delicious cuisine which the majority did not understand or know. "

Image: Shutterstock

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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