Rowland joined YO! in 1999 and was chief executive until 2017, expanding the business from three London restaurants to a global brand serving over 10m customers a year.
He will now focus on his role on the boards of Café Nero, UKHospitality and Gulf restaurant platform Eathos. Rowland is also an operating partner and chairman at TripSpan private equity, which backs Thunderbird fried chicken and Rosa’s Thai Café.
YO!, which is backed by Mayfair Equity Partners, has been pivoting its focus from restaurants over the past two years and is now one of the largest sushi companies outside Japan.
The business officially dropped the ‘sushi’ from its logo three years ago and has reportedly hired creative agency Pablo to relaunch its brand around its diversified menu and product range.
“The acquisition of Snowfox last month marks a further milestone in YO!’s pivot to a diversified global multi-brand and multi-format Japanese food group,” says Rowland. “As such, now’s the right time for me to step down from the board to make room for others who can guide YO! through to the next stage of development.”
YO! was founded in in 1997 and now operates over 100 restaurants worldwide.