Former Pizza Express boss to become YO! Sushi CEO next month

Following its recent £59m acquisition of Bento Sushi (Bento), North America’s second largest sushi brand, YO! Sushi has appointed Richard Hodgson as Chief Executive Officer.

Hodgson, who will commence the role next month, was formerly CEO of Pizza Express, where he was instrumental in driving the internationalisation of the business.

Prior to his role at Pizza Express, Hodgson was commercial director of Morrisons and Waitrose. At Pizza Express, he led its international expansion, opened well over 120 new restaurants including in South East Asia and China, acquired its international franchise operations in the UAE and the Far East, and developed its retail business through new deals with supermarkets and online delivery platforms.

Robin Rowland will step down as CEO but remain on the board as a Non-Executive Director. Rowland has led YO! for 18 years, taking it from three London restaurants, through three private equity transactions, to 97 sites worldwide. Today YO! serves seven million customers a year.

Rowland said, “I’m pleased to pass the baton to Richard. Richard inherits a business that continues to go from strength-to-strength and is now poised for rapid expansion across the Group’s range of formats and geographies. I look forward to supporting the Group’s growth in a non-executive capacity.”

Hodgson said, “YO! Sushi has been an iconic consumer brand for the last twenty years, and the introduction of the Bento brand and offering presents a huge opportunity. I’m excited about joining the newly diversified Group at this pivotal point in its development, and working with the team as we capitalise on the new multi-channel multi-brand format.”

Eric Nicoli, Non-Executive Chairman of YO!, added, 'I’m delighted to welcome Richard to YO!. He is particularly well-suited to drive the next stage of the Group’s growth and development. He arrives with an impressive reputation for motivating management teams and a strong background in grocery that is rare in the casual dining sector.

'His extensive experience in food retailing will also help the Group achieve its full potential as a global, multi-channel, multi-format and multi-brand purveyor of Japanese cuisine.

'Over the past 18 years, Robin Rowland has taught the UK to know and love Japanese food and, in the process, has built YO! into an iconic brand and a sought-after place to work. He is well known across the industry as the operators’ operator. The board looks forward to benefiting from his ongoing insight and support.”