10 New Restaurants on the Horizon: Wagamama's Expansion Plans in the UK

Monday, February 5, 2024

Following a successful first quarter of the year, Wagamama, the popular pan-Asian restaurant chain, is set to open ten new sites across the UK

"Our teams have done an excellent job in continuing to elevate our guest experience and we very much look forward to welcoming more guests to our benches as we head into 2024." - Thomas Heier

Known for its casual dining experience with bench seating, Wagamama has over 170 restaurants in the country and traces its roots back to London's Bloomsbury neighborhood, established 32 years ago.

Five new places to explore have been added to the list - St Enoch's in Glasgow, Epsom, Doncaster, Chatham in Kent, and Watford.

These openings will generate around 500 employment opportunities for kitchen porters, waiters, chefs, and managers.

Thomas Heier, the brand's CEO, expressed his excitement for the upcoming year, stating that consumer demand has been increasing, along with the introduction of new Korean-inspired menu items like vegan corn dogs and hot pots.

"Like seeing your baby brought up by strangers." - Alan Yau

The past six months have brought about a significant 10% surge in sales for Wagamama restaurants, as indicated by figures from last year.

In October, The Restaurant Group (TRG), Wagamama's parent company, was bought by US private equity firm Apollo Global Management for £701m, including debt.

The acquisition of this business by TRG ignited a struggle for control with Wheel Topco, which owns Pizza Express.

However, due to unfavorable market conditions, Wheel Topco withdrew its potential bid.

In 2022, TRG sold off loss-making chains Frankie & Benny's and Chiquto to Big Table Group for £7.5m in cash so it could acquire the latter's struggling leisure division.

Alan Yau, the founder of Wagamama, started the restaurant chain with the dream of creating a fast-food Chinese alternative to McDonald's or KFC.

Despite initial challenges, like figuring out how to speed up wok cooking, Yau discovered the secret ingredient – ramen – and named his first restaurant after a friendly Japanese nickname "Wagamama."

With 172 sites across the UK, Wagamama's success story continues as it prepares for its next phase of growth.