Restaurant chain Wagamama has made Martin Robinson chairman of the company following its £215m acquisition by private equity firm Duke Street.
His appointment comes as the firm revealed plans to accelerate its growth from 12 new outlets in the UK this year to 15 in following years. It is also thought to be planning a roll-out of outlets in the USA, starting with a new Washington DC site to add to its three in Boston.
Robinson has significant leisure industry experience, having spent the majority of his career in the industry. He has previously been commercial director of S&N Retail before becoming chairman of Center Parcs in 1999. He is also a non-executive director of Euro Disney UK, was chairman of Holmes Place Health Clubs and until recently was the senior independent director at Regus.
He succeeds Ian Neill, who said: "I am taking the opportunity of the current sale of Wagamama to step down as executive chairman and leave the company. I have had an exciting and fulfilling 15 years building Wagamama up from one location to what it is today and I am very proud of what we have collectively achieved. Steve Hill has been chief executive for the past five years and the company's current success is on his watch, and down to him, so I leave with the knowledge that Wagamama is in great shape with an outstanding leader. I look forward to remaining active in the sector as a non-executive director and investor."
Steve Hill, chief executive of Wagamama, added: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ian personally for his dedication and contribution to Wagamama's success to date. Ian has been a fantastic mentor and a great friend to me, as well as to the rest of the team at Wagamama.
"It is largely due to his vision that we have the fantastic business which we have today. I, together with the rest of the team at Wagamama, fully intend to leverage that legacy and we look forward to working with Martin as we look to take the brand further afield in the UK, USA and globally in the next phase of its development."
By Neil Gerrard
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