More than 1,000 jobs at risk as PizzaExpress announces potential closure of 67 restaurants
The chain said on Tuesday, August 4 that it was planning to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in the ‘near future’ to push down its rents amid the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lockdown restrictions imposed across the UK as a result of the virus saw restaurants close their doors in March, before being allowed to reopen again in early July.
The outcome of any CVA has ‘yet to be decided’, PizzaExpress said – but it may end in the closure of around 15% of its 449 restaurants in the UK, affecting 1,100 staff.
A company statement added: “This decision is a very difficult one; however, against the current unprecedented backdrop, Pizza Express believes reducing the size of its estate will help it to protect 9,000 jobs.”
PizzaExpress also said on Tuesday that it had put itself on the market, with the sale expected to run independently to its other plans, which include selling the business in mainline China and bringing in experts to help deal with its debts, which make up £735million.
UK and Ireland managing director Zoe Bowley said: “While the financial restructuring is a positive step forward, at the same time we have had to make some really tough decisions.
“As a result, it is with a heavy heart that we expect to permanently close a proportion of our restaurants, losing valued team members in the process.
“This is incredibly sad for our PizzaExpress family and we will do everything we can to support our teams at this time.
“As we continue to reopen our restaurants for dine-in and delivery, we will successfully navigate the extended period of social distancing expected in the months ahead and, in so doing, protect 9,000 jobs.
“The initial signs from the restaurants that have been reopened have been very encouraging and we hope that our loyal customers continue to support us now more than ever.”
The restaurant has branches at Dalton Park, Durham City, Gateshead’s intu MetroCentre, across Newcastle, Teesside Retail Park and in Darlington.