Financing

The owner of Wagamama is being sold to a private equity firm

The Restaurant Group, the U.K. company that owns the Asian concept, is being sold to Apollo Global Management for $623 million.
Wagamama
Wagamama recently opened its seventh U.S. unit in Tampa, Fla. | Photo courtesy of Wagamama.

The private equity firm Apollo Global Management is acquiring The Restaurant Group, the London-based company that owns the Wagamama chain, for £506 million ($623 million U.S.), the companies said on Thursday.

The Restaurant Group (TRG) is known mostly as the owner of 400 pubs and restaurants across the U.K. But the company also owns a 20% stake in a joint venture partnership in the U.S., where the chain operates seven locations. The company also has 60 franchised locations in a number of companies.

TRG has struggled coming out of the pandemic in the U.K., where inflation has hurt the economy, leading to weakening margins amid soaring costs. Activist investors in recent months have also pressured the company for changes.

The company in September announced that its chairman, Ken Hanna, would not seek re-election to the board next year.

In a release announcing the deal, Apollo called TRG “a high quality and leading company in the casual dining market with an attractive portfolio of concepts and brands.” It also called the company “a highly regarded operator, with the necessary capabilities and scale” to attract customers and talent.

The acquisition is valued at 9 times TRG’s adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, for the 12 months ended July 2, 2023.

Wagamama has long sought to gain a foothold in the U.S. market but has struggled to do so. The pan-Asian concept, which offers a menu of noodle bowls, first opened in 1992. TRG acquired the chain in 2018.

The company first opened in the U.S. with a location in Boston in 2007. Conversion Venture Capital, formed by Punch Bowl Social veterans Robert Cornog and Richard Flaherty, acquired 80% of the U.S. market in 2020, and the chain recently opened its seventh location in the U.S. in Tampa.

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