Global Japanese and Asian food group YO! has appointed John Walden as its new chairman, with Eric Nicoli to step down. 

Nicoli, who joined YO! as chairman in 2015, following the acquisition of the company by Mayfair Private Equity is leaving to pursue other interests.

Walden has worked within multichannel, consumer-driven, retail for more than 20 years, and has been brought in to help YO! progress its multichannel strategy.

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, Walden has extensive board level experience.

Previous roles have included chairman at Naked Wines, where he oversaw the sale of Majestic Wines and enhanced its focus on the US market.

He has also served as executive chairman at Holland & Barrett, and was managing director of Argos, and then chief executive of its parent company Home Retail Group, where he led the digital transformation of the business and its subsequent sale to Sainsbury’s.

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

Walden added: “It’s very exciting to be joining the group at this stage in its development. 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.”

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