Wagamama’s boss will leave the katsu curry and ramen chain after nearly three years in the role and hand over the reins to an internal successor.
Emma Woods will step down on 1 June – following the Government’s planned reopening of restaurants across the UK 17 May – to focus on her career as a non-executive director on company boards.
Woods will be replaced by Wagamama’s chief experience officer, Thomas Heier, but she will stay on as an adviser as the inaugural member of the group’s new brand board.
Wagamama and its sister dining chains owned by The Restaurant Group (TRG) said last month they were burning through £5.5m a month during lockdown as consumers were told to stay at home.
Woods said: “It has been an honour to lead the Wagamama business through the last tumultuous years but, as the business emerges from the pandemic and starts an exciting new chapter, it feels the right time to hand on the chopsticks to someone I know loves the brand as much as I do.”
Heier has been with the company since 2017, first as people director before heading up the US arm in 2018 and then being promoted to his current role last year, heading up marketing, insight and customer experience operations.
Andy Hornby, chief executive of Wagamama owner TRG, said: “The excellent performance of Wagamama under Emma’s leadership speaks for itself.
“Over the last three years Wagamama has constantly outperformed the market, improved our customer perception scores and shown continual innovation especially around food quality.”