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Date
13 April 2016

Business Shapers: Robin Rowland

Robin Rowland featured on Jazz Shapers, a radio programme broadcast on Jazz FM, presented by Mishcon de Reya's Director of Business Development, Elliot Moss.

Transcript

Business Shapers: Robin Rowland

Robin Rowland OBE

CEO Yo! Sushi

Business Shapers from Mishcon de Reya
In association with Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers

I loved Yo! Sushi the first time I saw it and I love it you know today.  But having disciplines and experience of you know successes and failures in large companies put me in a really good place to be able to work with Simon and eventually buy the business off him in 2003.  But you can have a great idea, but you have to repeat it if you’re going to make a big business and we hadn’t proved a great deal. We had a great site in Soho, we had great sites in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, but the truth is we couldn’t repeat those.  My challenge is to prove it can work in other locations which were less obvious.  So to me the seminal moments were opening in Paddington Station which was an island location.  It’s been fantastically successful, it costs buttons to do but it’s made us a fortune ever since and it’s been loved by many Londoners.  And I also basically took the restaurants overseas and we did a couple of sites in Greece, of all places, but the challenge of doing that has probably taught me a lot about how to take a brand overseas. 

We have just did a team engagement survey and 85% of our workforce, which is like 1800 people, are very happy to work for Yo! Which is an extraordinary high number, but the truth is it comes with the culture you create and around me I have a team who are positive, they are solution-minded, they are very respectful.  They live by the four mantras, they are respectful, unconventional, colourful and confident.  You know if you want to join Yo! you had better got in within the chime with those, those kind of values because we use those, when we talk to our landlords, to our suppliers, to our franchisees, to our bankers.  Everyone knows that we are real and there is no artifice in Yo!  We just try and do our very very best every day in a way which is a little bit tumbled, but also confident.  But the reality is we always thought differently, we don’t think ourselves as a restaurant business, we work with rock and roll designers, rock and roll graphics companies, our music is bespoke to us, we try to think more into the retail or brand that we do.  The food is very very important to us, but we never thought ourselves as a classic restaurant.  I am taking myself frightfully serious business so a sense of humour and self-deprecation and also listening hard you’ve guessed at what we’ve done and we’ve tried to stay small while we got big by being humbled and listening to people.

Business Shapers from Mishcon de Reya
In association with Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers