Could debt-laden Pizza Express be the next casualty on the high street?
THE high street is poised for another blow following fears for the health of Pizza Express.
Questions are being raised by industry sources about the ability of the restaurant chain to repay its debt. The company, owned by the Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital, is due to repay around £650million over the next three years.
But its total debt stands at more than £1billion, according to the group’s 2017 annual report.
Pizza Express faced interest costs of nearly £90million alone in 2017, when it made a £28.6million loss before tax. A number of restaurant chains including Byron Hamburgers, Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian were all forced to resort to rent restructurings known as company voluntary arrangements last year.
It came as figures show the number of shop visitors in December fell by 2.6 per cent in a year amid a rise in internet sales. Shopping centres were the worst hit, with a 3.9 per cent drop despite the Christmas sales, according to data from the British Retail Consortium and market analysts Springboard.
Diane Wehrle, of Springboard, said the decline showed retailers can no longer rely on Christmas trading to redeem revenue lost earlier in the year. Pizza Express declined to comment.
‘A percentage of that dish is donated to the pizza express In peril fund’