Y0! Zensho buys Sushi Owner for $621m

The Yo! The Yo!

Zensho Holdings, a Tokyo-based company, is buying Snowfox Group from Mayfair Equity Partners – the private equity firm which invested in Yo! In a move that smacks of coals to Newcastle, the Tokyo-based Zensho Holdings is buying Snowfox Group, owner of the sushi chain from Mayfair Equity Partners, the private equity firm that invested in Yo!

In the following four years, the group acquired the Snowfox, Bento, and Taiko brand names. Then, in 2021, it changed its name to Snowfox Group to reflect its expansion into the Japanese food market.

It operates 3,000 sushi restaurants and kiosks in North America and UK, as well as being a wholesaler and sushi manufacturer. It supplies retailers such as Tesco and Asda with more than 60 millions trays of Sushi each year.

In response to the pandemic, the business entered into a voluntary company arrangement in 2020. This resulted in the loss of 19 restaurants and 250 employees. The company received a cash infusion of £13million from its shareholders.

Mayfair attempted to sell the business in 2021 for a reported figure of £750,000,000 through an initial public offer, before switching over to a dual-track business. Numis was advising the company, along with Barclays Jefferies, and Peel Hunt.

Richard Hodgson (53), chief executive of Snowfox said that it was “a testament to the quality and authenticity of our Japanese food offering” when a Japanese company of Zensho’s caliber wanted us to join.

Zensho was founded in 1982 and is now developing a variety of food businesses that will support its global ambitions. It operates a wide range of businesses in Japan, including Sukiya restaurants, Hama-sushi, Coco’s, retail, and nursing care businesses.

In Malaysia, The Chicken Rice Shop operates the Sukiya Hama-sushi and Hama-sushi chains.

Hodgson – a former CEO of PizzaExpress – and his management will continue to work with Snowfox after the completion of the transaction and “work closely” alongside Zensho’s senior managers.

Zensho’s corporate philosophy is: “To take on responsibility for the development and stability of the human society, and to eradicate poverty and hunger from the globe.”

Yo! The Yo! Yo! has 65 outlets today. Sushi outlets.

Mayfair is a technology and consumer investment firm with more than £2 billion in assets under management. Ovo, an online retailer of energy in the UK, and Tangle Teezer are among its investments.