PizzaExpress to close 67 of its UK restaurants

PizzaExpress to close 67 of its restaurants in the UK
EJ
Emeh Joy

PizzaExpress business chain has announced that it could close about 67 of its restaurants across the UK thus, putting up to 1,100 jobs at risk.

The chain also disclosed that it has put itself up for sale while blaming the move on the "significantly more challenging environment", brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The firm's bosses while highlighting the "current unprecedented backdrop" of coronavirus believe that downsizing will help protect a larger percentage of the staff.

The company said it has plans to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal soon. This could lead to the closure of 15% of its 449 UK restaurants, thus, posing a threat to 1,100 posts.

The company, however, insisted that the final outcome is "yet to be decided". It also revealed that it has hired advisers from Lazard to lead a sale process for the business.

The firm had shut down all its restaurants in the UK on March 23 following the government-ordered lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andy Pellington, the group 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 and international businesses as well as support our teams as they return to work".

Meal ordered from PizzaExpress

Zoe Bowley, the UK and Ireland Managing director said even though financial restructuring was one of the best things for the firm to do, the firm still had to make some difficult decisions which include closing part of its restaurants.

"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", she said.

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