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