Sushi chain Wasabi could shut 12 stores after sales hit by coronavirus

Sushi chain Wasabi says it could shut 12 stores after sales were hit by coronavirus as high street jobs bloodbath continues

  • Wasabi could close up to 12 stores after it was ‘profoundly’ hit by lockdown
  • The sushi chain employs more than 1,500 and runs 51 shops across the UK
  • Food retail rivals Itsu and Yo! announced similar proposals in recent weeks 

Sushi chain Wasabi has launched a restructuring plan which could see up to 12 stores shut after sales were hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sources told the PA news agency that a ‘handful of stores’ could cease trading, with this potentially rising to ‘as many as twelve’ depending on conversations with landlords.

It is the latest sushi retailer to pursue a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) restructuring process after rivals Itsu and Yo! announced similar proposals in recent weeks.

Sushi chain Wasabi has launched a restructuring plan which could close up to 12 stores after its sales were ‘profoundly’ impacted by the coronavirus lockdown

The company, which employs more than 1,500 and runs 51 sushi and bento shops across the UK, said it was ‘impacted profoundly’ by lockdown measures introduced in March.

Wasabi, which sold a minority stake to investment firm Capdesia last year, said it will restructure its finances and operations, and receive fresh capital from its investors if the proposals are approved.

KPMG’s Will Wright and David Costley-Wood have been nominated to advise over the restructuring.

Henry Birts, chief executive officer of Wasabi, 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.

Rival sushi chains Itsu and Yo! announced similar proposals in recent weeks

‘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.’ 

Grab-and-go food retailers have been some of those businesses most significantly affected by the coronavirus crisis

Paul Berkovi, KPMG’s head of leisure restructuring, said: ‘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.’

Some 11 per cent of companies said their turnover decreased by more than 50 per cent during lockdown, while 17 per cent said they lost between 20 and 50 per cent, figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown.

Meanwhile, 32 per cent said their turnover was not affected at all.

The retail sector is at the heart of widespread job cuts with Marks & Spencer announcing this week that it plans to axe 7,000 staff in three months.

It is the latest in a string of high-street stores to announce cuts. 

Around 14,000 jobs are at risk at struggling department store Debenhams, with plans to liquidate the business announced last week. 

How more than 187,000 jobs have now been lost or are at risk amid the coronavirus pandemic 

This week, M&S became the latest employer to cut large numbers of jobs, saying it plans to cut around 7,000 over the next three months across stores.

It follows cuts announced by fellow retailer John Lewis, sushi chain Yo! and clothing store River Island last week. 

And around 14,000 jobs could be on the brink at struggling department store Debenhams, with plans to liquidate the business being drawn up in case other options for saving the company – such as selling it – fall through. 

Here are the major potential job losses announced since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed on March 23:

Total: 187,719

  • August 18 – M&S – 700 
  • August 17: easyJet: 670 
  • August 17: Jet2: 102 
  • August 16: Debenhams: 14,000 at risk 
  • August 14 – John Lewis – 399 at risk 
  • August 14 – Yo! Sushi – 250
  • August 14 – River Island – 350
  • August 12 – NatWest – 550
  • August 11 – InterContinental Hotels – 650 worldwide
  • August 11 – Debenhams – 2,500
  • August 7 – Evening Standard – 115
  • August 6 – Travelex – 1,300
  • August 6 – Wetherspoons – 110 to 130
  • August 5 – M&Co – 380
  • August 5 – Arsenal FC – 55
  • August 5 – WH Smith – 1,500
  • August 4 – Dixons Carphone – 800
  • August 4 – Pizza Express – 1,100 at risk
  • August 3 – Hays Travel – up to 878
  • August 3 – DW Sports – 1,700 at risk
  • July 31 – Byron – 651
  • July 30 – Pendragon – 1,800
  • July 29 – Waterstones – unknown number of head office roles
  • July 28 – Selfridges – 450
  • July 27 – Oak Furnitureland – 163 at risk
  • July 23 – Dyson – 600 in UK, 300 overseas
  • July 22 – Mears – fewer than 200
  • July 20 – Marks & Spencer – 950 at risk
  • July 17 – Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) – up to 1,200
  • July 16 – Genting – 1,642 at risk
  • July 16 – Burberry – 150 in UK, 350 overseas
  • July 15 – Banks Mining – 250 at risk
  • July 15 – Buzz Bingo – 573 at risk
  • July 14 – Vertu – 345
  • July 14 – DFS – up to 200 at risk
  • July 9 – General Electric – 369
  • July 9 – Eurostar – unknown number
  • July 9 – Boots – 4,000
  • July 9 – John Lewis – 1,300 at risk
  • July 9 – Burger King – 1,600 at risk
  • July 7 – Reach (owns Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers) – 550
  • July 6 – Pret a Manger – 1,000 at risk
  • July 2 – Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) – 1,909
  • July 1 – SSP (owns Upper Crust) – 5,000 at risk
  • July 1 – Arcadia (owns TopShop) – 500
  • July 1 – Harrods – 700
  • July 1 – Virgin Money – 300
  • June 30 – Airbus – 1,700
  • June 30 – TM Lewin – 600
  • June 30 – Smiths Group – ‘some job losses’
  • June 25 – Royal Mail – 2,000
  • June 24 – Jet2 – 102
  • June 24 – Swissport – 4,556
  • June 24 – Crest Nicholson – 130
  • June 23 – Shoe Zone – unknown number of jobs in head office
  • June 19 – Aer Lingus – 500
  • June 17 – HSBC – unknown number of jobs in UK, 35,000 worldwide
  • June 15 – Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100
  • June 15 – Travis Perkins – 2,500
  • June 12 – Le Pain Quotidien – 200
  • June 11 – Heathrow – at least 500
  • June 11 – Bombardier – 600
  • June 11 – Johnson Matthey – 2,500
  • June 11 – Centrica – 5,000
  • June 10 – Quiz – 93
  • June 10 – The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny’s) – 3,000
  • June 10 – Monsoon Accessorise – 545
  • June 10 – Everest Windows – 188
  • June 8 – BP – 10,000 worldwide
  • June 8 – Mulberry – 375
  • June 5 – Victoria’s Secret – 800 at risk
  • June 5 – Bentley – 1,000
  • June 4 – Aston Martin – 500
  • June 4 – Lookers – 1,500
  • May 29 – Belfast International Airport – 45
  • May 28 – Debenhams (in second announcement) – ‘hundreds’ of jobs
  • May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide
  • May 26 – McLaren – 1,200
  • May 22 – Carluccio’s – 1,000
  • May 21 – Clarks – 900
  • May 20 – Rolls-Royce – 9,000
  • May 20 – Bovis Homes – unknown number
  • May 19 – Ovo Energy – 2,600
  • May 19 – Antler – 164
  • May 15 – JCB – 950 at risk
  • May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide
  • May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450
  • May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide
  • May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150
  • May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide
  • April 30 – Oasis Warehouse – 1,800
  • April 29 – WPP – unknown number
  • April 28 – British Airways – 12,000
  • April 23 – Safran Seats – 400
  • April 23 – Meggitt – 1,800 worldwide
  • April 21 – Cath Kidston – 900
  • April 17 – Debenhams – 422
  • March 31 – Laura Ashley – 268
  • March 30 – BrightHouse – 2,400 at risk
  • March 27 – Chiquito – 1,500 at risk

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