19th March: Robin Rowland

Robin Rowland returns to Jazz Shapers for his encore. Robin has led YO! Sushi’s growth over the past 15 years. He joined the company when there were four London restaurants. As CEO, Robin put the team and systems in place to grow the business to 90 restaurants (75 UK restaurants and 15 restaurants overseas will be open by end of 2014).

In 2003 Robin led the first Management Buyout backed by Primary Capital at 11 UK restaurants and 4½ years later a second Management Buyout at 25 UK restaurants in March 2008 backed by Quilvest. So it’s been a busy few years since.

Building on 30 years of multi-site restaurant experience, Robin’s strategy for growth is centred on continual improvement of 5 Ps – Product, Property, People, Promotion and Profit. His vision is based on building successful teams, constant innovation, flat structure, open/direct communication, rewarding and fun environment in each & every restaurant.   

Robin started out at Whitbread Inns PLC as a Graduate trainee Pubs Area Manager in 1984 in Kent. He was recruited by Diageo PLC in 1988 to develop the ‘Old Orleans’ national chain of US theme restaurants (two to 24 sites). In 1992 Scottish & Newcastle PLC acquired the business and Robin moved to managing a 120+ site national division of hotels, premium London pubs and restaurants.

The Last (semi) corporate role for Robin started in 1995 when he joined The Restaurant Group PLC as first Retail, & then Group Franchising Director positions. By 1999 Robin was looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity and first met YO! Sushi’s founder. 

Robin and YO! Sushi’s team success have been recognised by a number of awards, most notably
2012 ‘Icon Winner’ and ‘Consumer Choice Award’ at the annual Peach Factory Hero & Icon Awards, 2008 ‘Group Restaurateur of the Year’ awarded from Catey Academy, 2011 ‘Retailer of the Year Award’ and ‘Best Company’ from M&C, R150 ‘best restaurant design’  and YO! Sushi’s achievement four years in a row (08-12) making the Times PE backed ‘Buyout 100 fast track’ list.

Robin has a wide established sector network as founder of the 50/20 restaurants group and NED positions with Marstons PLC, Caffe Nero and Tortilla.