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Wed 31st Jul 2019 - YO! results, Rare Restaurants appoints new chairman
YO! reports group adjusted Ebitda up 47% to £12.5m after pivot to multi-brand Japanese food group, momentum continuing in new financial year: YO!, the global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, has reported total sales from Bento, YO! UK, and seven months of Taiko were up 69.6% to £152.5m for the year ended 27 November 2018, compared with £89.9m the previous year. Group system sales stood at £201.2m. Group adjusted Ebitda was up 47% to £12.5m. The company, which said momentum has continued into the new financial year, stated: “Group figures reflect YO!’s strategic pivot with the acquisitions of Bento and Taiko, which transformed the business model, creating a global multi-brand, multi-channel platform. The group has been further diversified by the recent merger with SnowFox, the second-largest sushi kiosk company in the US. YO! UK figures demonstrate the resilience and robust nature of the business despite well-publicised headwinds for casual dining businesses, with further work undertaken during the period to ensure the company is set up for the future, with a clear growth plan designed to broaden our offer, and drive availability and engagement with a wider audience.” YO! chief executive Richard Hodgson said: “These results clearly show how we have significantly expanded our business with the Bento and Taiko acquisitions. Not only has it doubled our revenues, it has completely diversified our business across geographies and formats, creating a more resilient business model for the future. This has only been strengthened by the recent SnowFox merger, which has given us number two position in the US market, and group system sales of $425m. But we are not resting on our laurels. As a global multi-brand, multi-format Japanese food group, we have an opportunity to drive the availability and quality of sushi and fresh Japanese food. In the UK in particular, we’ve spent the year identifying how to leverage our new combined knowledge to create new formats and products to broaden our appeal among UK consumers. We’re really excited about the coming year, as we continue to test new initiatives.” The company added: “The acquisition in April 2018 of Taiko Foods, supplier of pre-packaged sushi to brands, such as Waitrose, further diversified YO!’s business model in the UK and added significant capacity for growth in UK supermarkets and other food outlets. During the period, and following the acquisitions, the group has looked at how it can leverage its position to lead ‘the democratisation of sushi and fresh Japanese food’ across the globe by increasing its accessibility and quality across channels. Total YO! UK turnover was up 5% to £88.9m, from £84.8m. This includes a like-for-like increase of 1% driven by innovative new promotions such as Green Wednesdays, an expanded and dedicated vegan and vegetarian menu, and targeted promotions such as kids eat free, as well as a significant increase in to-go and delivery. YO! UK adjusted Ebitda was £5.9m, down from £8.3m, reflecting a resilient performance despite significant investment in developing new concepts and products in light of the new global strategy, as well as well publicised industry cost inflation. An internal change programme ‘Say YO! to the Future’ was undertaken in the period to best position the brand for the next five to ten years focused on understanding our growth opportunities, broadening our offer to drive availability and engagement with a wider audience, and utilising the expertise across the group – especially in manufacturing and kiosks. A pilot (was launched) with Tesco for YO! manned kiosks in two sites creating made-to-order sushi. The trial has been very successful and is expected to roll out in the near future. (There was a) 22.9% like-for-like increase in revenue from YO! To Go, not including Deliveroo, following further development of the range and offer. New openings in the period included Watford in the UK, and five franchise restaurants – three in Paris Charles du Gaulle airport and two in Sydney airport. The board also took the decision to exit six sites in the UK in line with our diversification strategy. Since the period end momentum has continued into FY2019, with like-for-like group sales growth of 6% for the first six months since the period end. This includes 3% like-for-like UK restaurant sales growth demonstrating the benefits of our internal change programme. The recently announced merger with SnowFox, the second-largest sushi company in the US cements our North American presence and positions the group as one of the largest Japanese food companies outside of Japan. The group now has an enterprise value in excess of $400m and combined system revenues of $425m. A new site opened at Ashford showcasing new-look belt and separate to-go offering. Further franchise sites opened in Montparnasse station in Paris, and Istanbul airport, with more exciting new openings in the pipeline. A new concept restaurant is to open at White City Westfield in early autumn. Further ‘to-go’ options (are) being explored as a result of the significant growth in the to-go market. A range of sauces was launched as part of the diversification strategy to drive availability of Japanese products. (There was a) strong improvement in key brand measures – net promoter scores now sit within the top 10% of the casual dining market.”

Gaucho operator Rare Restaurants appoints Mitchell as chairman: Jamie Mitchell, the ex-chief executive of Tom Dixon Studio, and Daylesford, has joined the board of Rare Restaurants – the Investec and SC Lowy-backed parent company of Gaucho and M Restaurants, as its new non-executive chairman, Propel has learned. Mitchell was also formerly managing director of Innocent Drinks and is currently also chairman at, a family of delivery-only restaurant brands operated from “Cloud Kitchens” across Europe. The company told Propel: “Over a 25-year career, Jamie has led the transformation and growth of some of the UK’s best known consumer brands. Jamie’s most recent culinary adventure was masterminding the opening of one of London’s best new restaurants, The Coal Office – the collaboration between British designer Tom Dixon and Israeli chef Assaf Granit – in London’s Kings Cross.” Mitchell is joined on the Rare Restaurants board by Gary Mann, the co-managing director of Honest Burgers and former chief financial officer of Gaucho. Mann joins Rare as a non-executive director. Rare chief executive Martin Williams said: “We are delighted Jamie and Gary have joined the Rare Restaurants board. Their sector expertise and vast brand experience will undoubtedly help guide the company through our next ambitious chapter.” Rare is currently seeking a new chief financial officer after Jim Kottler recently stepped down from the role. A deal was concluded in April that saw M Restaurants’ three venues and Gaucho’s 16 sites brought together under the Rare Restaurants banner.

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