“The impact of the global pandemic has meant that we have had to make some incredibly tough decisions.”
Pizza Express is to shut 73 of its restaurants across the UK with the potential loss of 1,100 jobs.
The chain, which operates from South Methven Street in Perth and South Street in St Andrews, said the restructure was necessary to try to stay afloat in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown.
The company, which currently has around 454 restaurants in the UK, said tonight that it had has finalised a proposal to reduce its restaurant and rental costs via a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).
Both the St Andrews and Perth pizzerias will remain open under the plans, which require approval by creditors.
Pizza Express said that although the majority of its restaurants were profitable before lockdown was imposed, earnings had been declining across its estate for the last three years.
It added that the reduction in revenue caused by the enforced closure of all restaurants, the cost of reopening and the UK’s uncertain economic future meant its rental costs were no longer sustainable.
Pizza Express, which is majority owned by Chinese firm Hony Capital, also confirmed it had hired advisers from Lazard to lead a sale process for the business.
It said it would hold a virtual meeting for its creditors on September 4 to seek approval for the measures set out in the CVA.
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.
“Today we have confirmed that 73 of our pizzerias are proposed to close permanently.”
Ms Bowley said that in most cases, the stores selected for closure are near to another Pizza Express that has already reopened or will be reopening soon.
She added: “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.
“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.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “These situations are never easy, particularly now for the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses on our high streets at the sharp end of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Property owners, however, need to take into consideration the impact on their investors, including the millions of people whose savings and pensions are invested in commercial property, as they vote on any CVA proposal.”
The full list of 73 Pizza Express to close:
Aberdeen – Belmont Street
Barnstaple – Three Tuns
Birmingham – Corporation Street
Birmingham – Mailbox
Bournemouth – Post Office Road
Bristol – Berkeley Square
Bristol – Regent Street
Dudley – Merry Hill
Earls Court – Earls Court Road
Edinburgh – Holyrood
Fulham Palace Road
Glasgow – Princes Square
Ipswich – Lloyds Avenue
Leeds – Crown Street
Leeds – Horsforth
Newport – Isle of Wight
Newport – South Wales
Nottingham – Goosegate
Oxford – Oxford Castle
Reading – St Mary’s Butts
Sheffield – Devonshire Street
Sheffield The Moor
Southport – Old Bank