More than 1,000 jobs at risk as Pizza Express looks to close 67 restaurants

Pizza Express has said it could close around 67 of its restaurants in the UK, putting 1,100 jobs at risk.

The chain has also said it had put itself up for sale after bringing in experts - the sale will be run independently to the closure plans.

Bosses now believe that by reducing the size of the business, it will help protect the majority of staff.

It said today (Tuesday) that it's planning to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in the "near future" in a bid to push down its rents, which could lead to the closure of 15 per cent of its 449 UK restaurants, threatening up to 1,100 posts.

Pizza Express has said it could close around 67 of its restaurants in the UK, putting 1,100 jobs at risk.

However, it insisted the final outcome had "yet to be decided".

Bosses have said that should the proposals go ahead, the company will look for "redeployment opportunities both internally and externally for those employees impacted, and also offer outplacement support."

Exact details of the future restaurant estate have not yet been agreed and will be announced when the CVA is formally launched.

Zoe Bowley, UK&I Managing Director, said: “Our business has a long history of success, but the UK-wide lockdown has hit the hospitality industry particularly hard. 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.”

Group CFO Andy Pellington said: “Today’s agreement with our share and debt holders provides us with a significantly more robust balance sheet as well as material additional funding. It is a complete solution to our balance sheet issues and creates strong foundations to build on for future success.

“While we have had to make some very difficult decisions, none of which has been taken lightly, we are confident in the actions being taken to reduce the level of debt, create a more focused business and improve the operational performance, all of which puts us in a much stronger position.

"We can now plan to invest in both our UK and International businesses as well as support our teams as they return to work.”