Yo! Sushi takes fresh step to show appetite for stock market float

Business

The owner of the sushi restaurant chain Yo! will this week take a further step towards a stock market flotation that could come as soon as next month.

Sky News understands that The Snowfox Group will hold a presentation for City analysts as it prepares to announce a formal intention to float in London.

City sources said the listing could be unveiled as soon as mid-October, although a definitive date has yet to be decided.

A listing, which will be led by bankers at Numis, would cap a turnaround for one of the numerous UK-based casual dining businesses that was forced into an insolvency process as a result of the pandemic.

Snowfox has been able to recover relatively quickly because of the growing dominance of its American operations, which trade under the Snowfox name at hundreds of grocery store counters.

The group is majority-owned by Mayfair Equity Partners, the London-based private equity firm which has also backed businesses including OVO Energy.

It has established itself as the leading multinational Japanese food business, selling more than 60m trays of sushi annually and supplying retailers such as Tesco and Waitrose in the UK.

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By contrast, Snowfox now operates only 65 restaurants, having cut hundreds of jobs and closed a significant number of sites last year as part of a restructuring to keep it afloat.

The company has also appointed the former Argos chief John Walden as chairman, while former Whitbread finance director Chris Rogers has also joined the group’s board.

It is run by chief executive Richard Hodgson, a former Asda and PizzaExpress executive.

In its UK operations, Snowfox has devised a contactless format where customers can order remotely and have food delivered to them on YO!’s sushi conveyor belts.

Since its initial investment in YO! in 2015, Mayfair has helped to orchestrate the takeover of Canada’s Bento Sushi and a merger with SnowFox in the US last year.

A Snowfox spokesman declined to comment on Sunday.

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