PORTFOLIO / YO!

YO!_logo_lockup_square (002)

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

Founded in 1997, YO! introduced the British public to Japanese food in a vibrant dining experience featuring fresh, colour-coded hand-made sushi on its iconic ‘kaiten’ conveyor belt. The fast growth, fast casual restaurant chain expanded over the next two decades opening restaurants across the UK and overseas.

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. Under Mayfair’s ownership, the company has undertaken an ambitious acquisition strategy, combining with Bento, Taiko and Snowfox, leading sushi brands in Canada, the UK and US, respectively. YO! is now the largest sushi platform outside of Japan, generating over £400m in sales and serving over 50 million customers a year.

Our partnership

  • 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.


  • 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 management to deliver a research and insight programme that informed the brand’s evolution from YO Sushi! to YO! in 2017, the delivery of new creative digital content and geo-targeted social media campaigns.

“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 YO! the largest purveyor of Japanese cuisine outside Japan.”

Richard Hodgson, CEO, YO!