PORTFOLIO / Snowfox Group
SNOWFOX_Primary_Logo_Gold_Foil_RGB BLACK

Accelerating the transformation from UK restaurant chain to global sushi platform.

Sector

Consumer

HQ
London, UK

Geographic footprint

Global

Sales

>£400m

Employees

3,000

Investment date

November 2015

Status

Current

The company

Snowfox Group is a leading international, multi-channel Japanese food business with circa. £500m of system sales. The Group was created when YO!, the iconic and colourful British sushi restaurant chain, acquired Bento Sushi in Canada in 2017, Taiko in the UK in 2018 and subsequently merged with Snowfox in the United States in 2019. This has created a one-stop sushi solution for the company’s grocery partners on both sides of the Atlantic with the majority of the company’s profits now coming from North America.

Number of acquisitions during Mayfair’s investment 

3

Growth in number of annual customers

From 7m to 50m

The investment

Mayfair Equity Partners invested in YO! in November 2015, working in partnership with the management team to support continued growth in the UK and to build out significant opportunities for international expansion, particularly in the North American market. Snowfox Group is now the largest sushi platform outside of Japan, serving over 50 million customers a year from nearly 6,000 distribution points.

Our partnership

We have worked in close partnership with management throughput the duration of our investment. This has included:
  • Recruiting senior management, including Richard Hodgson as CEO in 2017 to lead YO!’s global expansion.
  • Expanding YO!’s North American footprint with the acquisition of Canadian market-leader Bento Sushi in November 2017. This added over 550 kiosks and new production facilities which supply 1,600 partner sites across North America.
  • Supporting the move into the UK’s food-to-go category with the acquisition of London-based Taiko Foods in April 2018 and rolling out sushi kiosks in Tesco and Asda across the UK.
  • Cementing the company’s North American leadership position with June 2019 merger with Snowfox, one of the largest operators and franchise owners of sushi kiosks in the United States, adding a further 900 kiosks to the group.
  • Supporting management to develop an ESG programme covering product and supply chain sustainability, diversity & inclusion and climate risk. This includes developing out a detailed ‘getting to net zero’ strategy.
  • Enhancing efficiency and saving costs across Bento’s manufacturing facilities through technology improvements and measures to limit food waste, while standardising a best-practice approach across the group as a whole.
  • Working with the team to deliver a research and insight programme that informed YO!’s brand evolution and a new approach to social media marketing. Mayfair also supported the creation and rollout of a new Snowfox Group brand.

“Having acquired YO! in 2015 Mayfair has used it as the foundation to build a truly global Japanese food group operating several brands and formats in multiple countries. We’ve worked in close partnership to drive organic growth and deliver strategic M&A to make Snowfox Group the largest purveyor of Japanese cuisine outside Japan.”

Richard Hodgson, CEO, Snowfox Group