Facilitated by Mayfair Equity Partners (who bought into the YO! business in 2015 as part of a management buyout), the combined businesses form a “global multi-channel and multi brand sushi platform” and, with sites across Europe, the Middle East, Australia and North America, is expected to become “one of the largest sushi companies outside Japan.”
With combined recorded sales of £175 million over the past twelve months, Bento Sushi chief executive officer Glenn Brown said: “This partnership presents Bento with an incredible opportunity to grow its platform. YO! and Bento share a similar ethos and history, and we look forward to working with the YO! team and taking advantage of opportunities to develop both brands.”
Trading from over 600 locations and supplying to a further 1700 partner sites, including quick service restaurants, on-site kiosks in supermarkets and other food service locations, and grocery and institutional food service clients, Bento has established itself as “the second largest sushi brand in North America” – delivering annual sales growth of 16% in the last three years – and was hence valued at CAN $100 million.
As part of the deal, Glenn Brown and Bento chairman, Ken Valvur, will join the Board of YO! and become “significant” shareholders in the combined group.
Valvur said: “The combination of YO! and Bento will further enhance our group’s ability to be the partner of choice for grocery and institutional food service providers throughout our enlarged operating geography, and creates exciting opportunities for our valued team members on both sides of the Atlantic.”
YO! chief executive officer, Robin Rowland, said: “We’ve successfully reinvigorated the business over the last two years to ensure the foundations are in place for long term growth.
“This acquisition takes YO! into the next stage of its development, and creates the first global multi-channel Japanese food purveyor. Bento’s proposition and its management team’s strong track record make it the ideal partner for YO! as we look to further grow our brand.”
Following a “renewed” focus on the brand, product, and people, YO! has seen like-for-like sales grow by +5% over the past 18 months, and has also opened eight new sites in the UK this year, and its first in Manhattan, Paris and Sydney.
The company said the “acquisition will create synergies and enable the continued growth of both businesses, particularly in the US market.”