Graphite's investment in Wagamama marked one of the earliest and most successful entries of private equity into the restaurant sector. The development of two restaurants into a leading UK chain won a series of industry awards

Wagamama is a chain of Japanese noodle restaurants. Graphite invested in the company in 1996 when it operated just two restaurants. Both outlets were extremely popular with a cover turn of an incredible 12 times a day. The restaurant offered excellent healthy food at reasonable prices to a wide range of customers.

Wagamama benefited from the increasing popularity of ‘eating out’ in the 1990s. The ability to ‘test’ and ‘prove’ the restaurant in a number of diverse locations was a primary attraction of the business to Graphite. An experienced management team was recruited and the business was expanded across the UK and overseas, where it met with almost universal success.

Key Business Achievements

Modified its operating model to be successful across a wide variety of locations

Grew its number of restaurants from two to 70 in the UK and 36 abroad

Increased turnover from £2.5 million to over £110 million

Grew operating profit from £0.4 million to over £20 million

Was voted most popular London restaurant in the Zagat restaurant survey

12.8 x

Return on Graphite's Investment

Business Exit

In 2005 Graphite sold a majority stake in Wagamama to Lion Capital. In 2011 we sold the remainder of our investment to Duke Street in a transaction valued at £215 million, generating a multiple of 12.8 times cost and an IRR of 37 per cent.