YO! Sushi hires ex-Pizza Express boss as it gears up to crack US market

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

YO! Sushi hires ex-Pizza Express boss as it gears up to crack US market

Related tags: Private equity, Private equity firm

YO! Sushi has hired former Pizza Express boss Richard Hodgson to lead the company as it prepares to ramp up its international expansion.

Current chief executive Robin Rowland will step down from his role after 18 years at the group, but will remain on the board as a non-executive director.

It comes after YO! announced its £59.2m acquisition of North America’s Bento Sushi​ chain last week, creating one of the world’s largest sushi companies outside Japan.

The deal makes YO! one of the first UK restaurant brands to make a serious play across the Atlantic.

Bento has over 100 restaurants worldwide, 550 partnered kiosks in North America and supplies fresh packaged sushi to a further 1700 partner sites, while YO! operates 97 sites in the UK and globally.

Hodgson joined Pizza Express in 2013 and oversaw growth of the brand in Southeast Asia and China as well as its sale to Hony Capital, one of China's largest private equity firms, in a c£900m deal.

Under his tenure Pizza Express linked up with Deliveroo to become the delivery giant's largest partner​ at the time in the UK, acquired the gourmet Firezza pizza brand​, ​and opened its first motorway service station restaurant​ near Oxford.

Rowland says Hodgon joins YO! as the group is poised for ‘rapid expansion…across [a] range of formats and geographies’.

“I’m excited about joining the newly diversified group at this pivotal point in its development, and working with the team as we capitalise on the new multi-channel multi-brand format,” says Hodgson.

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