We can’t pay the rent, warns Pizza Express
PIZZA EXPRESS is withholding rent payments as it battles its way through the pandemic.
The chain wrote to landlords on Friday saying it is not in a position to pay quarterly bills that fell due last week as it reels from the financial chaos caused by lockdown.
Bosses said it is taking a deliberately cautious approach as it is unclear how customers will react when 46 of its UK restaurants reopen from July 9.
Stringent safety measures will also make running outlets more challenging as Britain emerges into the socially distant “new normal” being demanded by scientists, it said,
Pizza Express was ordered to close on March 20 along with all other restaurants, although some branches have since opened for takeaways and it has continued to sell products through supermarkets.
Figures out last week suggest commercial landlords – who are banned from evicting tenants during the crisis – collected less than 20pc of what they were owed on the June 24 quarter day.
Frankie and Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group won backing from its creditors yesterday for a company voluntary arrangement under which 125 sites will close, while 85 of the remaining 160 will get reduced rents and revised lease terms.
“We continue to engage with landlords,” a Pizza Express spokesman said.