British sushi chain YO! Sushi has acquired Bento Sushi, the second-largest sushi chain in North America for $100m Canadian dollars (£59m).
The acquisition forms one of the biggest sushi companies outside of Japan, combining Bento's 600-strong portfolio of sushi bars across the US and Canada with YO!'s 97 owned or franchised restaurants worldwide. Combined sales for the last twelve months come to £175m.
The move comes following a strategic shakeup at YO!, under the leadership of chief executive Robin Rowland. The group has five per cent like-for-like growth over the past 18 months and has opened international sites in Manhattan, Paris and Sydney.
“We’ve successfully reinvigorated the business over the last two years to ensure the foundations are in place for long term growth," Robin Rowland commented today. "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.”
Bento, which was founded in Toronto in 1996, has had compound growth of 16 per cent in the last three years.
Ken Valvur, chairman of Bento said the combined company would be "the partner of choice for grocery and institutional food service providers throughout our enlarged operating geography".
The acquisition was facilitated by Mayfair Equity Partners, which partnered with YO!'s management team in 2015 as part of a management buyout of the business.
City A.M. understands that the brands will remain separate. But Bento's chief executive Glenn Brown and chairman Ken Valvur will both join the board of YO! and become significant shareholders in the combined group.