YO! appoints new chairman

Pan-Asian, kaiten belt operator YO! has announced that John Walden (pictured) has joined the group as its chairman, with Eric Nicoli stepping down to pursue other interests.

Nicoli joined YO! as chairman in 2015, following its acquisition by Mayfair Private Equity; he helped lead its transformation into a global multi brand, multi-channel food group, with 75% of revenues now coming from North America.

Walden has been at the forefront of multi-channel, consumer-driven retailing for more than 20 years. As well as advising consumer facing businesses and private equity investors through Inversion LLC, the US-based retail focused management and strategy consultancy he founded 13 years ago, he has extensive board experience of multi-channel consumer focused businesses both in the UK and US. 

Previous roles include chairman at Naked Wines, where he oversaw the sale of Majestic Wines and its enhanced focus on the US market, and executive chairman at Holland & Barratt following the acquisition by LetterOne.

From 2012-2016, Walden was managing director of Argos and then chief executive of its parent company Home Retail Group plc, where he led the digital transformation and sale of Argos to J Sainsbury plc.

“The last 12 months have demonstrated the value in our diversified multi-channel strategy," comments Richard Hodgson, chief executive officer of the YO! group

"Against the backdrop of a very difficult year for hospitality businesses across the globe, we have been able to grow thanks to our retail business in North America, which has remained open throughout. 

"As we now start to emerge from the pandemic, we see significant opportunities to further progress our multi-channel strategy and I am delighted that John has agreed to join our board as chairman at this time. He brings with him extensive experience from both sides of the Atlantic which will be invaluable as the group moves to the next phase of growth. 

"I want to thank Eric for his role in the transformation of the group over the last six years and wish him all the best with his future projects.” 

“It’s very exciting to be joining the group at this stage in its development," adds Walden. "Richard and the team have created a food group like no other, and there is still a lot to play for. I am excited about bringing my experience to the board and supporting Richard and the management team as they look to capitalise on this opportunity.”