Pan-Asian chain Wagamama has revealed difficulty in hiring chefs across a fifth of its restaurants as the sector battles amid a “perfect storm” of supply chain woes and staff shortages.

The group’s recently appointed chief executive Thomas Heier said he was struggling to fill chef vacancies in around 30 sites.

He said Brexit was impacting the number of European workers looking for jobs in the UK, but also blamed tough competition in the recruitment market as logistics firms are resorting to wage hikes and steep cash bonuses to help plug lorry and delivery driver shortages.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Heier said: “We’ve seen a reduction in our EU workforce in particular, but the other thing we’re seeing is increased competition from logistics and delivery firms who are struggling with an increased number of vacancies.”

It also comes as demand for workers has surged across the hospitality sector due to booming business following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions and with Britons staycationing due to the pandemic, according to the firm’s boss.

He said the seasonally quiet month of August saw sales on a par with peak trading levels normally seen in the autumn.

“It’s a perfect storm of higher than normal demand, with supply chain challenges in the mix and a shortage of staff on the logistics side,” said Mr Heier.

He said while Wagamama has not been in a position where it is desperately short of chefs or ingredients, it has felt the pressure like many of its rivals.

And he warned it could lead to rising food prices as the supply chain crisis mounts.

“I don’t think we or anyone else are out of the water yet,” he said.

In Essex, there are a number of sites that are currently on the lookout for chefs.

They are:


Role: Chef

Salary: £9.60 per hour


Roles: Chef, junior sous chef, sous chef

Salaries: Competitive



Chef, junior sous chef, sous chef

Salaries: £9.60 - £11.60 per hour

Wagamama’s comments come as the group launched a “plant pledge” campaign to encourage diners to eat more vegan dishes and cut back on meat and dairy to help the environment.

It confirmed that 50% of its menu will be meat-free for the first time from October 6, as part of a previously announced commitment.

The move is being made in response to climate change concerns and ahead of the COP26 conference in Glasgow this November, with research suggesting switching to a vegan diet can help reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 73%.

Wagamama will be offering customers that sign up to the plant pledge online a free vegan side dish.