Duke Street-backed Wagamama appoints Leighton as chairman

Japanese restaurant chain Wagamama, which is backed by Duke Street, has named Allan Leighton as non-executive chairman. Leighton’s extensive work background includes serving as president and CEO of Wal-Mart Europe.


The Board of wagamama is pleased to confirm that with immediate effect, Allan Leighton has joined the company as Non-Executive Chairman.
wagamama, the fast growing pan Asian restaurant group, completed a very successful bond offering in January and is set for continued growth, both in the UK and internationally. As of the 3Q15 UK LTM wagamama delivered 9% L4L sales growth, and has outperformed its peers on the Peach Brand Tracker consistently for 57 weeks*.

Currently with 114 wholly owned UK restaurants – including a recently opened showcase restaurant in London’s Soho (on Great Marlborough Street, by Carnaby Street) – the company is opening new UK restaurants every two to three weeks, and has new openings in July in Winchester and at Gatwick North (with another restaurant in the South terminal to follow soon). Internationally, the group has 35 restaurants, of which 31 are franchised – the most recent opening being in Amsterdam Central Station.

Peter Taylor, Managing Partner of Duke Street, principal investors in wagamama alongside Hutton Collins, said:
“We are delighted to welcome Allan to the company. His breadth of experience as a Chairman, particularly in multi-unit retail businesses, is hard to match and we are thrilled he agreed to join us.”

David Campbell, CEO of wagamama, said:
“The last year has been a record one for wagamama, thanks to our highly talented teams in the restaurants and at noodle hq, and now with Allan on board we look forward to achieving even greater growth both in the UK and importantly internationally. I am very excited by Allan’s arrival. The years ahead will be very good ones for wagamama.”

Allan Leighton, the new Chairman of wagamama, said:
“wagamama is in great shape. I have had a chance to meet a large number of the team – at hq and also in restaurants – and I am impressed by what has already been achieved, but more importantly what is planned over the next few years. We have a lot of ambition and I look forward to adding my experience and perspective to help realise that ambition.”

Allan Leighton has a rich business history. After a career at Mars, he went on to become CEO of Asda and then, following its sale to Wal-Mart, President and CEO of Wal-Mart Europe. He then took on a plural career which has included Directorships at companies including: Dyson, Cannons Group, BHS, BSkyB Group and Selfridges; as well as President of Loblaw Companies and CEO of Pandora. He has also been Chairman of lastminute.com and Royal Mail and is currently Chairman of Pace, Entertainment One, Office, Matalan and was recently appointed Chairman of The Co-operative Group.

Allan replaces David Williams who stepped down as Non-Executive Chairman at the end of 2014 following increased commitments as Chairman of The PGA European Tour.

Peter Taylor, of Duke Street, said:
“I want to thank David for his stewardship of the company over the last three years; he leaves the company in very good shape.”

About Duke Street
Duke Street is a leading operationally focused European mid-market buyout group, founded in 1988. It is currently investing across five key sectors: business services, financial services, consumer, healthcare and industrials/engineering. Duke Street has a proven model of value creation by successfully transforming businesses through implementing operational change and buy and build, having made nearly 60 bolt-on acquisitions for its portfolio companies.