The Times reports that the noodle chain's private equity owners Duke Street and Hutton Collins have appointed Goldman Sachs to review “strategic growth options” for the group.
They are understood to have been encouraged by last week’s sale of Pret A Manger to German investor JAB for £1.5bn, with analysts valuing Wagamama at more than £750m.
The Times says that preferred bidders for Wagamama are likely to be US private equity firms with the funds to kick-start its growth across the pond.
Duke Street and Hutton Collins bought Wagamama from Lion Capital for £215m in 2011 when it had 109 restaurants worldwide – including 70 UK sites and three in the US.
The chain has now grown to 130 UK outlets, with five in the US and 51 under franchise worldwide. It plans to open another two restaurants in New York over the next year.
While many of Wagamama’s UK high street rivals such as Jamie’s Italian, Byron and Prezzo have closed sites this year, the Japanese-inspired group has continued to buck the trend.
Like-for-like sales rose 8.2% in the three months to January 28, up from 7.1% growth in the previous quarter.
In May the company issued a press release stating it had outperformed the market for 208 consecutive weeks based on industry sales monitor Coffer Peach Tracker – which collects weekly and monthly data from 39 restaurant groups.
Wagamama was founded in London in 1992 by restaurateur Alan Yau.