Pizza Express plans to close almost a fifth of its British restaurants under a financial restructuring that places 1,100 jobs at risk.
The casual dining chain said it hoped to redeploy some of the staff affected by the company voluntary arrangement, which aims to reduce rents across much of its remaining store estate.
The rescue deal, which must be agreed by creditors, will lead to 73 of its 470 restaurants closing permanently following the deep disruption to trading caused by the lockdown. The story was first reported by Sky News.
Pizza Express, which was founded in Soho, central London, in 1965 by Peter Boizot, has 627 outlets, including 475 company-owned restaurants in Britain and Ireland and almost 150 outlets overseas, many of them franchises. In 2014 it was acquired by Hony, based in Beijing, in an £873 million deal.
Zoe Bowley, UK and Ireland managing director, said that “incredibly tough decisions to safeguard Pizza Express for the long term” had to be taken.
She said: “We have confirmed that 73 of our pizzerias are proposed to close permanently. In most cases there is another Pizza Express nearby, either already open or reopening soon. Hard as this process is, it will protect the jobs of over 9,000 of our colleagues and provide a strong footing for Pizza Express to meet future challenges and opportunities.”
Other restaurant operators, including the Café Rouge owner Casual Dining Group, Prezzo and Carluccio’s, have been forced by the Covid-19 crisis to call in insolvency practitioners or explore sale processes. In addition to wage and loan support, the government has aimed to help the hospitality sector through its Eat Out to Help Out initiative, which has resulted in more than 35 million discounted meals to date.
The full list of planned Pizza Express closures:
Aberdeen (Belmont Street)
Barnstaple (Three Tuns)
Birmingham (Corporation Street)
Bournemouth (Post Office Road)
Bristol (Berkeley Square)
Bristol (Regent Street)
Dudley (Merry Hill)
Earls Court (Earls Court Road)
Fulham Palace Road
Glasgow (Princes Square)
Ipswich (Lloyds Avenue)
Leeds (Crown Street)
Newport, Isle of Wight
Newport, South Wales
Oxford (Oxford Castle)
Reading (St Mary’s Butts)
Sheffield (Devonshire Street)
Sheffield (The Moor)
Southport (Old Bank)