The chair of Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group (TRG) is to step down amid pressure from activist investors.
Ken Hanna, who has been with the group since the beginning of 2022, will leave the company due to “personal reasons”.
Hanna has previously chaired companies including Aggreko and Inchcape.
There are suggestions that the decision was motivated by a desire to enable the group’s chief executive Andy Hornby and his colleagues to focus on navigating the company through a difficult economic environment, Sky News has reported.
Hong Kong-based activist fund Oasis Management owns nearly 15% of the restaurant operator and has previously demanded a board seat and called for a number of directors to step down.
“Ken clearly wants to avoid a prolonged and distracting dispute with Oasis when the company’s just reported a sector-leading set of results and another [profit] upgrade,” a person close to the company told Sky News.
Earlier this week, the group, which also owns the Franky & Benny’s and Chiquito’s, announced that it’s total revenue had increased by 10% to £467.4m in the six months to July 2023, and said it was targeting over 200 Wagamama restaurants in the long-term.
Ken Hanna said: “It has been a privilege to work at TRG and I will be leaving the company in great shape with the business trading really strongly, outperforming the market and making good progress on its strategic options.
I would like to thank the board and management team as well as our brilliant colleagues across the business for their great work and support during my time with TRG. I wish them and the group much continued success.”
Andy Hornby added: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Ken for his outstanding contribution to the business. He has been an exceptional chairman and a hugely valued colleague during a critically important period for TRG as we have successfully recovered from the Covid pandemic and made good progress with our strategy. Ken’s leadership of the board will be greatly missed by all his colleagues at TRG and we wish him well.”