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Thu 20th Apr 2017 - Wagamama makes debut in Spain, chief executive and Alan Yau thank staff as it turns 25 this weekend
Wagamama makes debut in Spain, chief executive and Alan Yau thank staff as it turns 25 this weekend: Wagamama has opened its first restaurant in Spain, in the Salamanca district of the capital, Madrid. Meanwhile, chief executive David Campbell and founder Alan Yau have also written to staff to mark the company’s impending 25th anniversary on Saturday (22 April). Wagamama Madrid will seat 180 covers within a space of 335 square metres, with the interior benefiting from expansive natural light thanks to its large windows overlooking Calle Serrano. The opening in Spain is the result of the agreement signed in July 2016 between Wagamama and Spanish franchise operator, Grupo Vips, which will operate the brand exclusively across Spain and Portugal. Grupo Vips plans to roll-out the Wagamama brand to more than 20 locations across Spain and Portugal in the next five years, and will open a second Wagamama in Madrid in June. Alvaro Salafranco, managing director Wagamama Spain and Portugal, said: “We are incredibly excited to bring the global leader of pan-Asian cuisine to Spain. Wagamama has 25 years of experience and success and continues to be as appealing and relevant today as in 1992. Our portfolio of brands is enhanced with Wagamama, a concept that responds perfectly to the current consumer demands for transparency, brand personality, quality and freshness, healthful and nutritious foods, in a modern and casual environment.” Beyond Iberia, Wagamama plans to open new restaurants in an additional three countries by the end of 2017. In a note to staff today (Thursday, 20 April), Campbell said: “The opening in Madrid marked our 20th global market, and Italy and France will follow soon. Our UK and US expansion also continues at pace; in the US a second site in New York’s East Village is under construction, as is a flagship site in Boston’s thriving Seaport. In our home market of the UK we are now 124 restaurants strong, with a new UK northern flagship in Edinburgh opening just last week. Our UK success has been the envy of the industry, with many awards, and like-for-like performance that has now significantly outpaced the UK market for 152 consecutive weeks, which I think is unprecedented. This last week I was asked to speak in September at a big hospitality event with the title: ‘New Life for a Pioneer Brand: Building Success from Success, The European Fast Casual Leader Returns’. I didn’t write the title, but I love it and I think speaks of all that the Wagamama family has achieved. As you know ‘kaizen’, which doesn’t have an English equivalent word but is essentially ‘continuous improvement’ or ‘good change’, sits at the heart of everything we do. It pushes us to find better ways in all that we do. We’re restless spirits, and forever looking to make things better. Kaizen has been a part of Wagamama since we started 25 years ago. In the intervening period, I am sure there are times when we have been good at kaizen, and less good, but I have no doubt that the renaissance of the Wagamama is due to embracing the founding principles of the company. And there are very few international brands that can say that. Today, all of you deserve every bit of credit for all that has been achieved – so thank you to everyone in our family of almost 7,000 around the globe. However there is on person, on our 25th anniversary, I want to single out for thanks and is the culinary genius – then and now – who created and founded Wagamama, Alan Yau. Without him, we would not be where we are today. Thank you, Alan. So, today, I cannot think of any more fitting way to end this thank you (to you) than with a few words Alan has asked me to pass on. It starts with a quote and then he continues with a few comments. ‘Before the discovery of Australia, people in the Old World were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seemed completely confirmed by empirical evidence... One single observation can invalidate a general statement derived from millennia of confirmatory sightings of millions of white swans. All you need is one single (and, I am told, quite ugly) black bird,’ wrote Nassim Nicholas Taleb. As the theory goes, the Black Swan represents an event that comes as a surprise, creating an extreme impact that can only be rationalised by hindsight, as if it could have been expected all along. This is how I see the achievement of Wagamama, of course with the benefit of 25 years of hindsight – it jolted the status quo to establish a lasting legacy. Here’s to continuing to grow that legacy, and continuing to create an iconic global brand. Happy 25th everyone!”


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