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Pizza Express to slice up to 1,100 jobs

Written by: Emma Lunn
The casual dining chain has announced that it will close 73 of its 454 UK restaurants with the potential loss of 1,100 jobs.

Pizza Express said it was closing the restaurants after cutting a deal to reduce rent costs and that the restaurant closures will mostly affect areas where it already has an alternative outlet.

The measures are part of a company voluntary arrangement which aims to improve the operational performance of the business. Trading performance has been hit by lockdown and difficult market conditions caused by coronavirus.

A company voluntary arrangement is a type of insolvency process, typically used as an alternative to putting a company into full administration. It can allow companies to get out of lease commitments, and shut outlets, or force rents lower.

Pizza Express said that although most of its restaurants have been profitable over the past three years, earnings had been declining.

The company also confirmed it had hired advisers from Lazard to lead a sale process for the business. It is currently majority owned by Chinese firm Hony Capital.

Zoe Bowley, Pizza Express managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Unfortunately, the impact of the global pandemic has meant that we have had to make some incredibly tough decisions to safeguard Pizza Express for the long term.”

Pizza Express is the latest in a long line of eateries to be hit by coronavirus.

Burger chain Byron has permanently closed more than half its outlets and cut 650 jobs in a bit to stay afloat.

Pret A Manger announced it plans to close 30 stores, while SSP Group, which owns train station and airport food outlets Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza, could cut up to 5,000 jobs.

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