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Wasabi gobbles up £25m funding facility to grow in UK and New York

Having built itself up to a portfolio of 41 stores, Wasabi has plans to add another 20 after agreeing a funding package with high street bank HSBC.
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Sushi and bento business Wasabi has turned to HSBC to fund its future expansion, and secured a loan of £25m – part of which will be used to develop a 65,000 sq ft warehouse.

The business, which was set up in 2003 by Dong Hyun Kim, has 14 locations in London, seven in the rest of the UK and two in New York. It now hopes to pursue the next stage of its expansion and has decided to use debt funding to do so.

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Wasabi is operating in a competitive market

The £25m package comprises of a £20m three-year revolving credit facility, a £4m asset finance deal for the warehouse and a £1m overdraft to support general business. The £20m proportion has been secured to fund the roll out of 20 new Wasabi sites.

Scott Etherington, Wasabi finance director, said: “This is a very important moment in the development of our business. With a well-established presence in London, successful outlets in major regional cities and two branches in New York, this deal provides us with the backing to push on to the next stage of our expansion plans in the UK and internationally. HSBC’s sector knowledge and global footprint gives us the support we need to achieve our ambitions.”

Former food market trader Kim, of South Korean descent, became the first person to set up a retailer selling individually-wrapped sushi when he established Wasabi. He was since joined by the likes of Itsu and Abokado in the takeaway sushi market.

According to a statement, Wasabi’s new central processing unit will improve its in-house food preparation capability as well as its service and food quality.

James Sawley, HSBC head of retail and leisure UK, commented: “The growing popularity of sushi and the ‘food to go’ market across the UK has enabled Wasabi to grow quickly but organically, ensuring each new outlet is adapted for its local market.

“We worked closely with the business to ensure this deal was tailored to Wasabi’s growth strategy and provided the business with a solid platform for growth here and overseas.”

Other businesses to have signed funding packages with HSBC during 2016 include clothing brand Jack Wills, which confirmed an enhanced line of credit of £30m, and Pieminster, which plans to open five new restaurants and create 80 job after securing £1.4m.

Jack Wills, which is also backed by institutional backer Inflexion Private Equity, has 65 UK shops and 19 others around the world – but plans to open a further ten retail destinations in Britain and Asia.

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Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven is the editor of Real Business. He is also the editor of Business Advice, a title focused solely on a section of the business community currently underserved – micro companies. Alongside this, he is part of the team that hosts the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative.

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