Pizza Express appoints new bosses as chain completes refinancing deal

Pizza Express has appointed new bosses and completed a refinancing deal as it pushes forward with its major turnaround plan in light of the pandemic.

The restaurant chain has named former Wagamama boss David Campbell as its new chief executive, while former Asda chief Allan Leighton will be its new chairman.

The leadership shake-up comes a week after the restaurant group said it would cut another 1,300 jobs across its UK restaurants.

Pizza Express restaurant
Pizza Express restaurant

In August, Pizza Express had already announced a major restructuring which resulted in 1,100 job losses, 73 restaurant closures and a major refinancing plan to slash its debts.

On Friday, Pizza Express said it has now completed the programme designed to secure its long-term financial future.

The company said the refinancing has cut its debt by over £400 million to £319 million, while £40 million of new cash will be immediately injected into the business.

Pizza Express said the business also has a further £90 million of funds available from bondholders who took control of the business.

Mr Campbell will now look to drive Pizza Express’s recovery out of the coronavirus pandemic, with its English restaurants now shut to diners for at least four weeks.

He left Wagamama in 2017 after leading a turnaround at the pan-Asian chain and helping it expand further across the UK.

“PizzaExpress is an iconic brand, which has enjoyed much success over its 55-year history,” Mr Campbell said.

“The chance to steer the company to even greater heights in the years ahead is an honour.

“I am very much looking forward to working with the team and, with the backing of a strong balance sheet, on some exciting times ahead.”

Mr Leighton said: “This is a unique opportunity in casual dining.

“With a significant recapitalisation of the company, and substantial further funds committed, we look to building on our position as a leader in the casual dining market, once Covid restrictions are eased.

“There is great future for Pizza Express delivering great pizza and a brilliant customer experience.”

Zoe Bowley, managing director of Pizza Express UK & Ireland, said: “2020 has been a very tough year and obviously remains so as we start the second lockdown.

“I would like to acknowledge the resilience and commitment of all our teams who have made me incredibly proud.

“After the reshaping of the company, we can now start to accelerate and grow Pizza Express, with new shareholders, a strong balance sheet, and a new experienced chairman and group chief executive.”