Wagamama set to take on US market

20 January 2006
Wagamama set to take on US market

Japanese noodle-bar chain Wagamama is set to launch in the USA this year, with up to six restaurants planned for Boston, Massachusetts.

Chief executive Ian Neill confirmed that the London-based company, now controlled by Lion Capital, is on the verge of signing a deal for its first site in Boston's city centre.

"We chose Boston because we know the area and because of the interesting mix of communities in the region, including universities, finance and business. It's also easy to access from the UK," said Neill.

Unlike Wagamama's other international sites, Boston will not be a franchised operation. The project will be funded from within the business and start-up costs are estimated at about $1m (£566,000) per outlet.

"The US market, should it be successful, is enormous. We believe we'll get better value for our shareholders by controlling the business directly," said Neill.

Wagamama is also set to launch franchised outlets in Cophenhagen in the spring and Istanbul in the summer.

The group operates 38 outlets in the UK as well as in six other countries including Australia, New Zealand and Belgium. A further 12 UK sites are planned for the next financial year.

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