Pic: Tim Goode/PA Wire/PA Images
Pizza Express is to close 73 of its UK restaurants, with around 1,100 jobs likely to be lost as a result.
The restaurant chain, which has just over 450 outlets, said it had negotiated reductions in rent but that earnings had been declining prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
It has hired advisers from Lazard to begin a sales process for the business. Chinese company Hony Capital is currently its majority owner.
The company has faced financial difficulties since last year, when it reportedly entered talks with creditors to reduce a debt of £1.1bn.
Last month it announced it would enter a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), in order to begin a process of insolvency. The CVA has enabled the chain to reduce its rent obligations and keep the majority of restaurants open, but some closures have been inevitable.
UK managing director Zoe Bowley said that the restructuring process would “protect the jobs of over 9,000 of our colleagues”, but that “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”.
In most cases, stores selected for closure are near to another Pizza Express that has already reopened or will be reopening soon, Bowley added.
The news follows the announcement yesterday that retailer Marks & Spencer would cut 7,000 jobs after a decline in sales.
Economists have warned that unemployment could hit 2 million by the end of this year as the furlough scheme draws to a close and employer are faced to make difficult budget decisions.
In the past week alone, Yo! Sushi said it would close 19 restaurants and cut 250 staff as part of a restructure after signing a company voluntary arrangement with its creditors, while the West End producer of Les Misérables and Hamilton, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, made around 200 employees redundant.
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