CEO of Wagamama – Meet The Boss

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wagamama ceo

Wagamama serves up Japanese-style cuisine all over the world. Though the UK is the restaurant’s leading market, the chain has restaurants across Europe, North America and the Middle East. It has recently opened new premises in Spain and Saudi Arabia, and aspires to expand further into the U.S. by building on its three existing stateside restaurants in the near future.

Having capitalised on new trends, Wagamama has only grown in recent years. The brand reported a 12% increase in turnover in the first quarter of 2018, and also opened four new restaurants across Liverpool, Rushden Lakes, Chelmsford and the East Midlands. With new franchise stores also opened internationally in Qatar, Norway and Italy, it’s clear that Wagamama is still leading the clean-eating movement that is sweeping across the globe

The restaurant’s specialist chefs work with powerful flavours to produce dishes with a kick. Its chicken katsu curry is a favourite amongst diners, and due to its success Wagamama has recently released a new vegan version– the Vegatsu. Using seitan, a wheat-based meat substitute, this addition to the menu has been met with rave reviews on social media.

The Wagamama Business Strategy

Wagamama proudly claims to believe in the philosophy of ‘Kaizen’, or ‘good change’. When opening its first store in Bloomsbury, London the chain realised that there was a gap in the market for a healthy alternative to fast-food. Ever since the first restaurant’s doors opened, Wagamama has been combined nutritious and nourishing flavours with fast-paced table service.

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But Kaizen means more than just healthy eating – it’s about striving to be better than the day before. This is a mind-set that directs all of the company’s business operations. It’s sustainability strategy, for instance, is always growing in scope and pursuing a better world. As well as all of its restaurants being powered by renewable energy, the fast-food chain converts all of its used oil into bio-diesel fuel. It has also introduced clever energy-saving technology to make its kitchens more sustainable; the amount of electricity its extractor fans use is now regulated depending on cooking activity.

This commitment to delivering a better service day in, day out means that Wagamama is constantly evolving its brand. A recent wave of restaurant refurbs has been rolled out across the Wagamama network, with new dining experiences being unveiled in Liverpool, Bristol and Oxford amongst others.

But Wagamama’s success in recent years can be attributed to another development of its business strategy: online delivery. Since Deliveroo arrived on the fast-food scene in 2013, Wagamama diners have been allowed to enjoy the chain’s menu from the comfort of their own homes. The Japanese franchise has consistently been one of Deliveroo’s most popular restaurant chains, and in 2017 its chicken katsu curry was one of the delivery app’s top 10 most ordered dishes internationally.

Who is Wagamama's CEO?

The CEO of Wagamama is Emma Woods. She succeeded Jane Holbrook in the company’s top position in December 2018. Across two years at the restaurant chain, Emma climbed the company hierarchy from her original position as Customer Director in 2017. Before Wagamama, she had held positions at other companies including Marketing Director at both Unilever and Pizza Express. Immediately before joining Wagamama, she was Non- Executive Director of The Gym Group.

Before embarking on her corporate career, Emma studied Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford.

How can I get in contact?

Emma Woods’ email is emma@wagamama.com. However, it is important to remember that CEOs are incredibly busy people with tight business schedules. In order to get through to the Wagamama senior team, it might be better to get in contact with the company’s ‘Noodle HQ’ in Soho. The office can be contacted via phone on 08442575856, or via post at 76 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1F 0UR.

Does Wagamama Franchise?

Wagamama is a part of the Point Franchise network. It offers international franchise opportunities in select European and Middle Eastern locations, which currently include Croatia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania and Switzerland. Unfortunately, the restaurant chain is not currently looking for franchise partners in Russia, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, Canada, the U.S., Central America and the Far East.

To enquire about developing a franchise with Wagamama, the company can be approached via its website. However, Wagamama usually franchises with corporate catering groups that boast a portfolio of international-standard restaurant brands, such as RMAL Hospitality which recently opened a Wagamama branch on the Palm in Dubai.

To start up a Wagamama franchise, a minimum investment of £40,000 is required, on top of which there is a £40,000 franchise fee. Training in the company’s management processes is offered for as long as it takes for you to master the Wagamama brand. Its franchise team will also help you in choosing a location for your restaurant, and you will benefit from the Head Office’s worldwide promotional strategy.

The ideal Wagamama Franchisee

Wagamama is after franchisee partners who are passionate about the company’s Kaizen philosophy. They have to match Wagamama’s drive to improve day in, day out and preferably have prior experience working with a franchised global brand. They will also be familiar with the business environment of the retail sector and have worked in that industry in the past.

In return for your passion, you will have the benefit of carrying the name of an international, award-winning dining brand. The brand’s spectrum of awards includes the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards ‘Large Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year’ (2017 and 2018), as well as the PETA Vegan Food Awards ‘Best Vegan Curry’ (2017). Growing across the globe via its franchise network, Wagamama is a forward-thinking brand that is ready to take its business to the next level.

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