Italian chain with Eastbourne restaurant announces closures

An Italian food chain with a restaurant in Eastbourne is set to close a number of establishments.
Pizza Express is set to close 67 restaurantsPizza Express is set to close 67 restaurants
Pizza Express is set to close 67 restaurants

Pizza Express said it has had to make the ‘difficult’ decision to enter into a company voluntary arrangement and cited the covid-19 lockdown as having a ‘profound’ effect on the hospitality sector and its revenues.

Today (August 4) it announced plans to close 67 restaurants, affecting 1,100 jobs.

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According to Pizza Express, its financial restructuring aims to halve its current debt from £735 million to £319 million.

There is one Pizza Express restaurant in the town, in Cornfield Road, which could be at risk.

However, a company spokesperson said the exact restaurant closures are yet to be confirmed.

Zoe Bowley, UK Managing Director, said today (August 4), “Our business has a long history of success, but the UK-wide lockdown has hit the hospitality industry particularly hard.

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“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 Pizza Express 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.”

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Ms Bowley said the initial signs after restaurant re-openings have been encouraging and she hopes customers continue to show their support ‘now more than ever’. Group CFO Andy Pellington said today’s agreement has provided a ‘significantly more robust balance sheet’ as well as ‘material additional funding’.

He said, “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.”

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The company currently has 449 restaurants in operation, and said it will close down 15 per cent of them.

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