Pizza Express will close 73 restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk | Business

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Pizza Express will close 73 restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk, after creditors approved a bailout restructuring.The casual dining chain has 355 Pizza Express restaurants currently open in the UK, with more than 30 more restaurants and music venues set to reopen in the coming weeks. It also has 150 international points of sale.

The closures extend from Aberdeen to Torquay, including its original site on Wardour Street in Soho, which opened in 1965, and other outlets in London, Birmingham and Bristol.

Pizza Express said approval of its Voluntary Agreement Agreement (CVA), a form of insolvency, would help secure 9,000 jobs in the UK.

It paves the way for financial restructuring to reduce the group’s debt burden from £ 735million to £ 319million and has the potential to hand over control to its bondholders as part of a debt-for-stock swap .

Creditors have agreed to spend £ 144million to reopen Pizza Express stores which were forced to close in March as part of the government lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus.

A potential buyer is also being sought as part of the restructuring process.

The group is currently owned by Hony Capital, a Chinese company which bought Pizza Express in 2014 as part of a £ 900million deal in hopes of expanding the chain in China.

The company said it would seek redeployment opportunities for those affected by the closures.

Restaurants have closed stores as trade collapsed amid fears over the coronavirus as well as pressure on household finances.

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The government’s Eat out to help cutback program has helped keep businesses going and has encouraged diners to return to restaurants and cafes, but the number of customers is still declining year on year.

Pizza Express is the latest chain to close restaurants and cut jobs – the owner of pizza chains Ask Italian and Zizzi must permanently close 75 restaurants with the loss of 1,200 jobs, while Casual Dining Group, owner of Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas closed 91 outlets when it took office in July.

In June, the Restaurant Group, which owns Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s, announced it would close as many as 120 restaurants, with nearly 3,000 job losses, while more than 1,000 Carluccio employees lost their jobs in the part of a bailout deal in May.

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