SUSHI chain Yo! has said it plans to shut 19 of its sites and cut up to 250 jobs in a bid to protect its long-term future - but, the Worcester branch is safe  

The restaurant chain, which has 59 restaurants, including one in Cathedral Square in Worcester, announced the cuts as part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring process.

It said that sites earmarked for closure are “no longer financially viable” and have unsustainable rental costs in the current trading environment.

The group shut its sites temporarily in the face of the pandemic in March, before starting to re-open last month with a new model in place to deliver food to customers in line with safety regulations.

Yo! has introduced a new conveyor belt system to its restaurants.

Meals at its restaurants are now sent directly to customers on belts with a traffic light system after its previous conveyor belt model was thwarted by new safety guidelines.

It said changes to its operations are “delivering significant cost savings” and have been “well received by guests”.

Richard Hodgson, chief executive officer of the chain, said: “Like the rest of the sector, we need to take decisive action to adapt to the lasting changes that the Covid pandemic has brought about.

“While we have already taken measures to reduce costs, rents remain an issue. In the current climate, it’s just not viable for us to keep any sites that no longer perform.

“While it’s been a very difficult decision to make and I am very sorry that it will mean losing many of our team members, a CVA has become an essential measure to secure our business for the future, and enable us to protect as many jobs as possible.”

Yo! Sushi came to Worcester in 2017 and is not on the list of closures.