The Australian arm of UK-based Japanese noodle franchise Wagamama has entered liquidation and all of its Australian outlets are now closed, just under a year after collapsing into voluntary administration.
Nathan Landrey of FTI Consulting was appointed as liquidator of franchise partner Edible Concept Holdings on September 25, after Stephen Vaughan and Ian Hall of KPMG were appointed as administrators in October 2013.
The first Wagamama store opened in Australia in 2002. At its peak, Wagamama operated as many as 10 restaurants in Australia and it featured on the BRW Fast 100 in multiple years.
Landrey told SmartCompany eight Wagamama stores were operating throughout the administration process but all of the restaurants closed prior to his appointment. The Wagamama restaurant at Melbourne’s Southbank closed shortly after KPMG took over last year, with Hall telling Fairfax at the time the store was not profitable.
Landrey says prior to KPMG’s appointment last October, the company employed approximately 280 employees, although this figure was reduced to around 200 prior to the closure of the remaining restaurants in mid-September.
According to details available from former Edible Concept Holdings chief executive Mark Rowland on LinkedIn, the Australian Wagamama restaurants were at one stage turning over more than $25 million per annum.
Landrey says he is unable to comment as to why the company entered voluntary administration as he was not a party to the discussions in the lead up to the appointment.
This month, Wagamama customers took to the chain’s Facebook page to ask why their local restaurants had closed without warning, with claims the stores in Subiaco and Carrindale were quietly closed.
Wagamama Australia responded on September 18 to say all of its stores have now closed.
“We are disappointed to inform you that we have recently closed all of our Wagamama restaurants in Australia,” said the company.
“We are currently looking for a new franchise partner and we’re hoping that some of our restaurants will be re-opening soon. We will keep you updated as soon as we have any news to share.”
Earlier this month Edible Concepts Holdings said it was seeking buyers for its stores, with Business Spectator reporting at the time the company was “in talks with a number of potential buyers and other restaurant operators, both within Australia and offshore”.
Former owner and operator of Wagamama Australia Stewart Koziora told SmartCompany it is “sad to see” to decline of the business he helped bring to Australia.
While Koziora, who is the commerical director and co-founder of Smart50 business Retail Savvy Group, said he cannot comment on the current state of the Wagamama Australia business as he has not been involved with the chain for around 10 years, he says when he left the company it was “very profitable”.
“At the time there were six sites and myself and my partner Luke Fryer owned and operated all of them,” says Koziora.
“Our first venture was located next door to Cargo Bat at King St Wharf in Sydney.”
Wagamama was founded in London in 1992 and currently operates in 17 countries, including Australia. According to the Wagamama website, the chain has more than 100 restaurants in the United Kingdom.
*This article was updated at 3.18pm on Wednesday, October 1 to include comments from FTI Consulting.