Pizza Express is to close 73 of its branches, putting up to 1,100 jobs at risk.
The chain currently has 454 restaurants in the UK, but it’s understood that earnings have fallen, and the chain has felt the impact of the coronavirus crisis after having to remain closed during the lockdown period.
Why are Pizza Express closing some branches?
The company has said that it has had to make decisions in order to protect the pizza chain in the future.
Pizza Express has launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in order to finalise a proposal on reducing both restaurant and rental costs.
The firm stated that earnings across the Pizza Express estate have been declining over the past three years, but that the majority of its restaurants were profitable before lockdown came into place in March.
The company has explained that several factors mean that its rental costs are no longer feasible. This includes the closure of restaurants during lockdown, the cost of reopening when lockdown measures began to ease, and the uncertainty of the UK economy in the near future.
Zoe Bowley, Pizza Express’s 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.”
Ms Bowley explained that in most cases, the stores which have been selected for closure were located close to another Pizza Express that had already reopened, or would be reopening soon.
Pizza Express has also said it had hired advisers from Lazard to lead a sale process for the business, which is majority owned by Chinese firm, Hony Capital.
The chain said it hoped to redeploy some of the staff impacted by the closures, and the chain has also said it had cut a deal to reduce rent costs.
"Our focus is on our people whose jobs are impacted and we will be doing everything we can either to redeploy them or to support them in finding roles elsewhere,” explained Ms Bowley.
"Hard as this process is, it will protect the jobs of over 9,000 of our colleagues and provide a strong footing for Pizza Express to meet future challenges and opportunities."
Which Pizza Express branches are closing?
In total, there are 73 branches that will close. These are:
- Aberdeen, Belmont St
- Barnstaple, Three Tuns
- Birmingham, Corporation St
- Birmingham, Mailbox
- Bournemouth, Post Office Road
- Bristol, Berkeley Square
- Bristol, Regent Street
- Bruton Place, London
- Charlotte Street, London
- Dalton Park
- Dudley, Merry Hill
- Earls Court, Earls Court Road, London
- Edinburgh, Holyrood
- Fulham Palace Road, London
- Glasgow, Princes Square
- Hampstead, London
- Hatch End
- Ipswich, Lloyds Avenue