Pizza Ex­press puts 1,100 jobs at risk with clo­sure of 67 UK out­lets as buyer sought

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Han­nah Ut­t­ley

PIZZA Ex­press is set to close 67 of its UK restau­rants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk, as it fights to shore up cash af­ter sales were ham­mered by the pan­demic.

The 55-year-old chain is to make sweep­ing cut­backs as Chi­nese owner Hony Cap­i­tal seeks a buyer for the com­pany, with ad­vis­ers from in­vest­ment bank Lazard hired to over­see an auc­tion process.

Bosses are plan­ning to re­struc­ture the firm us­ing a so-called com­pany vol­un­tary ar­range­ment (CVA), which would re­sult in the clo­sure of around 15pc of its 449 UK sites. The CVA would re­quire ap­proval from land­lords and other cred­i­tors. Pizza Ex­press is also seek­ing rent re­duc­tions.

The pro­pos­als are a fur­ther blow to the be­lea­guered hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try just a week af­ter By­ron Burger said it would close 31 of its 51 sites and axe 651 jobs. Pizza Ex­press blamed the move on the coro­n­avirus cri­sis, which it said had cre­ated more chal­leng­ing trad­ing.

Ad­vis­ers from Houli­han Lokey and Kirk­land & El­lis will over­see a re­struc­tur­ing of the busi­ness, with the auc­tion run in­de­pen­dently of these plans.

Hony plans to re­tain own­er­ship of Pizza Ex­press’s main­land China busi­ness. It was bought by Hony for £900m in 2014, and has more than 600 restau­rants world­wide and em­ploys 14,000 peo­ple – more than half in the UK.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.