Wasabi has launched a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to drive through a financial and operational restructuring programme as low footfall in central London continues to impact trading.
The grab-and-go sushi and bento chain, which has 51 sites in the UK – the majority of which are in the capital – said it expects social distancing, the slow return of office workers and low levels of tourism to continue to adversely impact future trading. The Caterer understands that if approved the group expects to exit a small number of leases via the CVA.
CEO Henry Birts, said: "Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, Wasabi had been performing strongly on the back of the investment and operational improvements we had made during 2019.
"However, the extraordinary impact of COVID-19 on trading has meant that we now need to take additional steps to address our fixed cost-base if we are to secure the long-term future of our business.
"In recent weeks, we have had constructive engagement with landlords regarding better alignment of the rents of certain sites in proportion with footfall and trading, and we will continue to work closely with them over the days ahead.
"We strongly believe that this turnaround programme will provide us with a stable platform upon which we can emerge from this difficult period as a healthy and sustainable business, for our staff, suppliers and loyal customers."
Will Wright and David Costley-Wood of KPMG's are the proposed nominees of the CVA. Paul Berkovi, KPMG's head of leisure restructuring, added: "With large numbers of city centre workers and tourists remaining at home, grab and go food retailers have been some of those businesses most significantly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. With the outlook remaining uncertain, Wasabi is taking decisive action to safeguard its future."