1,100 jobs at risk as Pizza Express eyes around 67 restaurant closures

Pizza Express has said it could close around 67 of its UK restaurants, with up to 1,100 jobs at risk, as part of a major restructuring plan to shore up its finances.

The dining chain said it plans to launch a Company's Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal in the near future, in a move which could lead to the closure of 15% of its 449 UK restaurants.

However, it stressed that the final outcome of the restructuring has "yet to be decided".

Pizza Express said it has also hired advisers from Lazard to lead a sale process for the business.

The company closed all its UK restaurants on March 23 after the Government-mandated lockdown.

Andy Pellington, group chief finance officer, said: "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&I and international businesses as well as support our teams as they return to work."

Zoe Bowley, UK and Ireland managing director, said: "Our business has a long history of success, but the UK-wide lockdown has hit the hospitality industry particularly hard.

"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."