Yo! Sushi seeks first legal panel as empire expands

Japanese restaurant operator Yo! Sushi is to set up its first panel of law firms in order to meet the growing needs of its business

The company, which brought conveyor-belt sushi to the UK, has appointed Meena Heath of consultancy Genesis Coordination to set up a panel of lawyers after she approached Simon Woodroffe, the chain's founder. She was subsequently appointed by managing director Robin Rowland.
The panel will cover corporate, property, employment, intellectual property and licensing and will need international capability as Woodroffe plans to expand Yo! Sushi worldwide. The chain currently has 12 branches in London and Edinburgh.
Heath said: “They don't outsource a huge amount, but as the business grows the work is increasing. They're very commercial so they're looking for lawyers that suit their business.”
Heath expects to formalise the panel within the next three months. Yo! Sushi has used Star Personnel for employment advice, but has otherwise tended to use firms on a more ad hoc basis. The company's financial director and managing director have so far dealt with the outsourcing of legal work. In addition to Star, Heath said that Osborne Clarke is also in the running for a general commercial role on the panel. The final panel is likely to include three main firms.
Those who are successful can expect an unusual mix of work from the company. Woodroffe is an advocate of cannabis legalisation in the UK and the company's expansion plans include opening a string of upmarket cannabis bars branded Yo! Blow. But while the company eagerly awaits the decriminalisation of cannabis, other plans include Yo! Hotels and Woodroffe is also looking for investors to back a Yo! Spa concept.
“We're looking for advisers for everything, including the Yo! brand,” said Heath.
Heath's experience includes setting up panels for property giant Rotch and insurance company First Title.