1,100 jobs threatened as PizzaExpress plans to close 67 restaurants | Economic news

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PizzaExpress has announced that it could close around 67 of its UK restaurants, putting up to 1,100 jobs at risk.

The chain, which also went on sale, blamed the decision on “the much more difficult environment” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bosses argue that downsizing the company will help protect the majority of staff.

The company said it plans to launch a voluntary company agreement (CVA) in the “near future” with the aim of lowering rents.

Although the outcome has “not yet been decided,” Pizza Express said the reshuffle could lead to the closure of around 15% of its 449 restaurants in the UK, affecting 1,100 employees.

The company said, “This decision is very difficult; however, in today’s unprecedented environment, Pizza Express estimates that reducing the size of its business will help protect 9,000 jobs. ”

Pizza Express closed all of its UK restaurants on March 23 after the government-ordered lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Andy Pellington, Group Chief Financial Officer, said: “Although we have had to make some very difficult decisions, none of which were taken lightly, we are confident in the steps being taken to reduce the level of debt, create a more focused business. and improve operational performance, which puts us in a much stronger position.

“We can now consider investing in our UK and international operations, as well as supporting our teams in their return to work. ”

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

“Although the financial restructuring is a positive step forward, at the same time we had to make some very difficult decisions.

“As a result, it is with a heavy heart that we plan to permanently close some of our restaurants, losing valuable members of our team.”

She added, “As we continue to reopen our restaurants for dinner and delivery, we will be able to weather the long period of social distancing expected in the months to come and in doing so will protect 9,000 jobs.

“The first signs of the restaurants that have reopened are very encouraging and we hope our loyal customers will continue to support us more than ever. ”

Separately, the group has announced plans to sell its mainland China business and has called on restructuring experts to help it meet its debts of £ 735million.

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