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Pizza Express in crisis talks with creditors over debt mountain

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Pizza Express is reportedly in crisis talks with creditors today, after struggling with millions of pounds worth of debt.

The Italian restaurant chain is said to have accumulated £1.6 million of debt per restaurant

News that the chain is in trouble was announced on Twitter early this morning by financial advisory company Langton Capital.

The company wrote, “Pizza Express reportedly about to engage in talks with creditors.
“Last seen, had £1.6m of debt per restaurant. Not sustainable.”

The Chinese-owned restaurant group has more than 470 restaurants across the UK and 100 overseas in Europe, Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia, The Philippines, Singapore and the Middle East.

Founded in 1965, the chain has been one of the most popular Italian eateries for more than 50 years.

Worried customers

Concerns that the restaurant chain may go out of business have been spreading across social media, with customers hoping it won’t be the next food outlet to go succumb under debt.

However, customers were quick to blame the chain’s expensive prices for the reported debt trouble:

According to its most recent results, profits fell 7.7% in the first half of the year, but still came in at to £32.4million as sales rose slightly.

PizzaExpress chief executive Jinlong Wang said: “Intense competition in the casual dining sector encourages innovation and we are constantly seeking ways to increase appeal to new and existing customers.”

He added: “Looking ahead, whilst we expect both the UK and Ireland and International markets to remain challenging, we are confident in our ability to successfully appeal to customers and believe that we will continue to deliver a resilient performance across the remainder of 2019.”

Of that, £655.6million is due to be repaid by August 2022 – a large chunk of it in August 2021.

Bloomberg said representatives for PizzaExpress and financial service firms Houlihan Lokey and Perella Weinberg declined to comment.

In recent years PizzaExpress has looked to expand beyond its core UK restaurant business – by partnerships with supermarkets and Deliveroo in the UK and by looking at growth overseas.

It’s also trying hard to beat the high street slowdown with new menu ranges, new restaurant designs and even opening new sites.

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