Coronavirus: Pizza Express slimming plans that put 1,100 jobs at risk are approved

Pizza Express has secured enough support among creditors to approve restructuring plans that will see dozens of restaurants close and 1,100 people at risk of losing their job.

The casual dining chain confirmed last month a story by Sky News that it was moving to slim down after the coronavirus lockdown took a heavy toll on revenues and raised costs.

Its plans, under the agreed company voluntary arrangement (CVA), will see 73 sites close and rent reductions within its surviving restaurant estate.

Pizza Express, which currently employs more than 10,000 staff, said it had 355 sites back trading UK-wide – with another 30 due to follow in the next few weeks.

The restructuring is not only geared to securing the business but guarantees £144m of new investment and cuts to its debt pile.

The chain, majority-owned by Chinese firm Hony Capital, has been put up for sale as the sector continues its fightback from hibernation.

It participated in the government’s Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme that was aimed at aiding recovery from COVID-19 pain across the hospitality sector.

Rivals including Zizzi-owner Azzurri, The Restaurant Group – behind Frankie & Benny’s – and Byron Burger have all announced restaurant closures.

Cafe Rouge owner Casual Dining Group is among competitors to have gone into administration.

Pizza Express said: “The successful vote unlocks the company’s ability to actively address the challenges brought by COVID-19, securing over 9,000 jobs in the UK.

“The directors of Pizza Express thank its creditors for their support during this period and look forward to ongoing partnership as the hospitality industry recovers to growth.”

The company also confirmed last month that it had hired advisers from Lazard to lead a sale process for the business.

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