YO! Sushi is preparing to slice hundreds of jobs and close 19 of its sites as the casual dining restaurant becomes the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
The chain, which has 59 restaurants and 10 concessions across the UK, is launching a company voluntary agreement (CVA), which will allow it to shut its loss-making sites.
The announcement adds YO! to a long list of UK restaurant casualties with Pizza Express announcing last week it could close up to 67 of its restaurants and cut up to 1,100 jobs.
Britain’s restaurant industry has been hit hard by the pandemic along with lockdown measures, but chancellor Rishi Sunak launched the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, to provide temporary respite and boost the economy.
Richard Hodgson, chief executive officer of Yo!, said: “Like the rest of the sector, we need to take decisive action to adapt to the lasting changes that the Covid pandemic has brought about.
“While we have already taken measures to reduce costs, rents remain an issue. In the current climate, it’s just not viable for us to keep any sites that no longer perform.
“While it’s been a very difficult decision to make and I am very sorry that it will mean losing many of our team members, a CVA has become an essential measure to secure our business for the future, and enable us to protect as many jobs as possible.”
In March, YO! shut its sites temporarily in the face of the pandemic, before starting to reopen sites last month with a new delivery model in place.
The group implemented a belt with a traffic light system, to send meals directly to customers eating at its restaurants, after its previous conveyor belt model was thwarted by new safety regulations.