Wagamama workers to share £4m Christmas bonus


Wagamama staff are to receive Christmas bonuses of up to £2,000 each following the £559 million sale of the restaurant chain.

The Press Association has learned that around 4,000 staff will share in a £4 million bonus pot as part of a payout ordered by outgoing chief executive Jane Holbrook and Wagamama’s former private equity owner Duke Street.

Head chefs and managers will bank £2,000 each, while waiting staff will pocket £1,000, provided they have worked at Wagamama for more than 12 months.

It is understood that the bonus is meant as a token of appreciation from Ms Holbrook and Duke Street, which will receive a massive windfall from Wagamama’s sale.

Duke Street acquired Wagamama in 2011 for £215 million and last month sold the chain to Frankie & Benny’s owner, The Restaurant Group, in a £559 million deal.

Restaurant Group chief executive Andy McCue now plans to accelerate the roll-out of Wagamama across the UK, expand concessions and pilot pan-Asian cuisine “food-to-go” offerings.

The firm will also explore international growth opportunities for Wagamama.

As part of the deal, Emma Woods will replace Ms Holbrook as chief executive, and chairman Allan Leighton will join the Restaurant Group board.

When it was first announced in October, the deal raised eyebrows as it comes at an increasingly challenging time for the eating-out sector, which is suffering from a slowdown in consumer spending.

However, Wagamama has outperformed the market, booking sales of £306.7 million and with an operating profit of £43 million last year.

While the takeover was approved by Restaurant Group shareholders, there was a significant level of opposition.

Just under 61% of shareholders supported the deal, which will be paid for through a combination of a £315 million rights issue and a £220 million revolving credit facility.