In light of the impact to trade caused by the pandemic, including the reduction in tourism and office worker footfall in the capital, the group says it is undertaking a financial and operational restructuring programme that will see additional investment from the company’s investors, conditional on the approval of a CVA.
As reported by The Times, it is understood that 'a handful' of sites are likely to be closed, although job losses are being kept to a minimum.
The decision to pursue a CVA follows the appointment of restructuring advisers from KPMG back in May, who were brought in to advise the business on its strategic options.
“Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, Wasabi had been performing strongly on the back of the investment and operational improvements we had made during 2019," says Henry Birts, CEO of Wasabi .
“However, the extraordinary impact of Covid-19 on trading has meant that we now need to take additional steps to address our fixed cost-base if we are to secure the long-term future of our business.
“In recent weeks, we have had constructive engagement with landlords regarding better alignment of the rents of certain sites in proportion with footfall and trading, and we will continue to work closely with them over the days ahead.
“We strongly believe that this turnaround programme will provide us with a stable platform upon which we can emerge from this difficult period as a healthy and sustainable business, for our staff, suppliers and loyal customers.”
Founded in 2003 and employing more than 1,500 staff, Wasabi currently operates a total of 51 sites in the UK, the majority of which are located in central London.
“With large numbers of city centre workers and tourists remaining at home, grab and go food retailers have been some of those businesses most significantly affected by the Covid-19 crisis," adds Paul Berkovi, KPMG’s head of leisure restructuring.
"With the outlook remaining uncertain, Wasabi is taking decisive action to safeguard its future.”