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Thu 10th Oct 2019 - Wasabi appoints Henry Birts as chief executive
Wasabi appoints Henry Birts as chief executive: Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain, has appointed Henry Birts as chief executive. The former Pizza Hut Restaurants deputy managing director will join the company on Friday, 29 November. He will replace Frederic Lluch, who stepped down as managing director in July. Birts has built a strong track record through more than 15 years in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He brings a wealth of experience from different brands and international markets during his time with Yum! Brands, as well as cross-functional expertise in finance, operations, property, IT, supply chain, and strategy spanning company and franchise operations. Most recently he played a key role in the turnaround of Pizza Hut Restaurants under private equity ownership and brings with him a commercial and operational focus that will be a valuable addition to Wasabi Group. Wasabi is growing its leadership team further by recruiting two directors to lead operations and marketing functions. Birts said: “I am excited to be getting on board with such a vibrant brand, strong business and great team. (Wasabi founder) Dong Hyun Kim and his colleagues have built a hugely impressive business over the past 16 years and shown the strength of the brand through continued growth and delivery, even against the backdrop of recent challenges within the industry. This is a business well placed to grow in an exciting and expanding sector of the market. There are many exciting growth opportunities ahead and I feel privileged to join the team for the next phase of its journey.” Kim added: “Wasabi has come a long way since its Camden days and Henry has the right experience and knowledge to lead us to the next stage of growth.” Earlier this year Wasabi received investment from Capdesia, a flexible growth capital investor that focuses on European-headquartered, expansion-stage chains in the limited service dining space. The funds will be used to support the next phase of growth including expansion of the UK portfolio, a refurbishment programme, expansion in the US, and development of other commercial opportunities for Wasabi, which was founded in 2003.

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