● The Snowfox Group acquired by Zensho Holdings to support Zensho’s ambitions outside of its home market of Japan
● Snowfox to benefit from Zensho’s Japanese heritage and expertise
● Mayfair fully exits, having grown EBITDA over 4x since 2015
● Transaction is the largest Consumer exit by a UK Private Equity firm in 2023
London, 19 September 2023: Mayfair Equity Partners (“Mayfair”) today announced that, having received all necessary regulatory approvals, Zensho Holdings Co., Ltd (“Zensho” or “the Group”), has completed the acquisition of The Snowfox Group (“Snowfox” or “the Company”) for $621 million.
Mayfair Equity Partners (“Mayfair”), a dedicated consumer and technology investor with over £2 billion in assets under management, will fully exit Snowfox. This transaction is the largest consumer exit by a UK private equity firm in 2023. Snowfox’s leadership team, including CEO Richard Hodgson, will remain with the Company.
Founded in 1982, Zensho is a leading Japanese food group and is the number one food service company in Japan by sales. The Group is developing a wide range of food businesses and expanding globally with the mission of providing safe and delicious food at affordable prices to people around the world. Zensho operates its business under the corporate philosophy of ‘To take responsibility for the stability and development of human society and to eradicate hunger and poverty from the world’ to sustainably deliver safe and high-quality food to their customers as a ‘food infrastructure’. The company operates a diverse portfolio of businesses in Japan, including the beef bowl restaurant Sukiya, the 100-yen sushi restaurant Hama-sushi, and the family restaurant Coco’s, as well as retail and nursing care businesses.
Outside of Japan, the company also operates Sukiya, Hama-sushi mainly in East Asia, Advanced Fresh Concepts (AFC) mainly in the US, and The Chicken Rice Shop (TCRS), which operates halal-certified chicken rice shops in Malaysia.
Since Mayfair’s investment in YO! in 2015, the group has increased its EBITDA by over 4x to £39.3 million in FY22. Mayfair has supported the Company’s successful diversification strategy, helped to deliver international expansion, and three transformative acquisitions. In 2017, Mayfair identified, funded, and helped complete YO!’s first international transaction, the acquisition of Bento. This was followed by the acquisition of Taiko in 2018 and the merger with Snowfox in 2019, which gave the Company a significant US presence. The Company’s transformation was completed with the establishment of The Snowfox Group in 2021.
In the period ending 27 November 2022, the Company recorded revenues of over £300 million, a 52% increase year-on-year. When compared to 2019, the last full year of trading pre-pandemic, the Company’s adjusted EBITDA growth was 140%, delivered through a combination of top line growth and operational efficiencies. The Company also leveraged its long-term relationships with grocery partners to expand into retail services in the United States, through the launch of Snowfruit, a franchised fresh cut fruit and vegetable offer.
“I am delighted that Snowfox will be joining forces with Zensho. We share similar values and a shared ambition to provide high quality, authentic Japanese food to people throughout the world. Following the great success and growth we have experienced over the past seven years under Mayfair’s ownership, this transaction represents the next natural step to fulfil our near- and long-term strategic objectives,” said Richard Hodgson, CEO at Snowfox. “I would like to extend my sincere thanks and congratulations to my colleagues at Snowfox for their continued hard work and steadfast dedication to our collective success. I would also like to thank Mayfair for their incredible support over the years and look forward to continuing Snowfox’s upward growth trajectory at Zensho.”
“YO! was one of Mayfair’s earliest investments and we’re proud of the role we played in creating the Snowfox Group and supporting the Company’s growth, particularly in the United States,” commented Waqqas Ahmad, Partner at Mayfair Equity Partners. “We have no doubt that Snowfox will thrive under Zensho’s ownership, with leadership from Richard and the brilliant Snowfox team. I would like to extend my thanks to the Snowfox team for their hard work and look forward to seeing their continued success as part of Zensho.”
For further information, please contact:
The Snowfox Group:
Mayfair Equity Partners:
The One Nine Three Group
+ 44 (0)788 4136 143
About The Snowfox Group
The Snowfox Group specialises in the preparation of Japanese cuisines with a focus on sushi, a traditional Japanese food featuring specially prepared rice combined with fish, meat, or vegetables in easy bite-size portions. It also offers a variety of food-to-go products including bento and poke. The Snowfox Group’s mission is to create better food for everyone, the Japanese way.
The Snowfox Group is well positioned to meet growing consumer demand for high quality healthy food offerings through its versatile business model across three key channels: its Kiosk business, its Sushi Commissaries business, and its Restaurant business.
The Group has chef-operated sushi kiosks globally, with customers including blue chip grocery retailers. Overall, the Snowfox Group is a trusted operator in North America and the UK, via its four leading brands – Snowfox, Bento, Taiko, and YO! – the Group provides sushi to a large and growing international customer base across three main channels.
About Mayfair Equity Partners
Mayfair Equity Partners is a dedicated technology and consumer investor, with assets under management of over £2 billion. Mayfair’s investment philosophy centres on backing people and their ideas, working with founders and management teams to help them realise their ambitions. Mayfair’s model of Active Partnership includes a senior team of dedicated functional Specialists who support portfolio companies with business process improvement initiatives that help unlock their full potential.
Mayfair has an established track record of supporting fast-growing, sector-defining companies, including Ovo, a digital challenger which has scaled to become the third largest provider in the UK retail energy sector; LoopMe, a leading brand-focused mobile advertising platform; and Tangle Teezer, the category defining British haircare brand.
For more information, please visit www.mayfairequity.com.