Pizza Express set to close 67 restaurants – putting 1,100 jobs at risk

National restaurant chain Pizza Express has today announced that they could close 67 of its restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk.

The food and retail sectors have been devastated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lckdown, and Pizza Express are the latest victims to suffer the consequences.

As a result, the chain has now put itself up for sale, in order to secure its future in the UK.

The chain said it plans to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal immediately, which could lead to the closure of up to 67 restaurants. The group’s 60 locations in China are also set to close.

Today’s announcement will result in the reduction of the group’s external debt from £735m to £319m.

Andy Pellington, Pizza Express’ Chief Finance Officer, said: “While we have had to make some very difficult decisions, none of which has been taken lightly, we are confident in the actions being taken to reduce the level of debt, create a more focused business and improve the operational performance, all of which puts us in a much stronger position. We can now plan to invest in both our UK&I and international businesses as well as support our teams as they return to work.”

Zoe Bowley, UK and Ireland Managing Director, continued: “Our business has a long history of success, but the UK-wide lockdown has hit the hospitality industry particularly hard. While the financial restructuring is a positive step forward, at the same time we have had to make some really tough decisions.

“As a result, it is with a heavy heart that we expect to permanently close a proportion of our restaurants, losing valued team members in the process. As we continue to reopen our restaurants for dine-in and delivery, we will successfully navigate the extended period of social distancing expected in the months ahead and, in so doing, protect 9,000 jobs.

“The initial signs from the restaurants that have been reopened have been very encouraging and we hope that our loyal customers continue to support us now more than ever.”