PIZZA Express is “to close around 75” out of its 470 restaurants in the UK as part of restructuring plans following the coronavirus crisis.
The restaurant group employs 8,000 workers but the move will put hundreds of jobs at risk, reports Sky News.
Sources said that the final number of store closures is yet to be finalised but it’s likely to be around 20 per cent of its portfolio.
But how many stores and which ones close for good depends on the outcome of talks with landlords due to start next week.
The chain is reportedly looking to shutdown scores of outlets through an insolvency process called a company voluntary agreement (CVA).
It doesn’t mean the chain has gone bust but instead it will look at ways to save the business, such as reducing rent rates with landlords.
Job losses since June 2020
MANY firms have announced job cuts since June as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. These include:
- Shoe chain Aldo collapsed into administration with five stores permanently closed
- Victoria’s Secret plunged into administration, putting 800 jobs at risk
- Fashion chain Quiz put its shop business into administration in , putting 82 stores at risk
- British Gas owners cuts 5,000 jobs, over half of which will be in management
- Airbus announces 1,700 job losses. It expects cuts to be made by summer 2021
- TM Lewin says it will close all 66 of its UK shops, putting 600 jobs at risk
- Harveys Furniture goes into administration resulting in 240 immdiate job losses and puts another 1,000 at risk
- Upper Crust plans to make 5,000 out of its 9,000-strong workforce redundant
- EasyJet says it plans to close hubs at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle, putting 4,500 jobs at risk
- John Lewis is reported to be planning to cut jobs and permanently close department stores
- Harrods has said it is consulting on cutting 680 jobs
- Virgin Money, which owns Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, will cut 300 jobs
- Topshop owner Arcadia has announced plans to cut 500 office staff
- Royal Mail is expected to cut 2,000 jobs as a result of coronavirus
The closures would be on top of the financial restructuring plans reported yesterday by The Times, which will see its Chinese owners Hony Capital relinquish its control to bond-holders.
This would see some of the company’s debts wiped out in exchange for equity in the firm.
In October, the chain was said to be in financial difficulties after it ended 2018 with a whopping £1,122.5million worth of debt after a pre-tax loss of £55million, according to its latest annual report.
This is up by £45million compared to its £1,077.4million debt pile for the previous year.
Pizza Express had been hit by increasing rates and rents, and struggled to keep up with a changing casual dining sector.
But the devastating effect of the coronavirus crisis has created new challenges after it temporarily closed down during the government lockdown.
If the restaurant closures go ahead it will be the latest blow to the retail industry amid warnings that around 250,000 jobs could be axed as Brits choose to shop online instead of return to the high street.
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The pandemic has already claimed shoe chain Aldo, Victoria’s Secret, Harveys Furniture, Cath Kidston and Monsoon Accessorize.
The Sun has contacted Pizza Express for comment.