Pizza Express to close 73 outlets hitting 1,100 jobs


Customers sit outside Pizza Express restaurant in Central London Image copyright Getty Images

Pizza Express is to close 73 of its UK restaurants with the potential loss of 1,100 jobs.

The chain, which at the moment has 454 UK outlets, said it had cut a deal to reduce rent costs.

It said although most of its restaurants have been profitable over the past three years, earnings had been declining.

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

It is is currently majority owned by Chinese firm Hony Capital.

Zoe Bowley, Pizza Express’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Unfortunately, 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.”

Ms Bowley said that in most cases, the stores selected for closure are near to another Pizza Express that has already reopened or will be reopening soon.

She added that the process “will protect the jobs of over 9,000 of our colleagues”.

The outlets to close are:

Aberdeen, Belmont St

Aylesbury

Barnstaple, Three Tuns

Biggleswade

Billericay

Birmingham, Corporation St

Birmingham, Mailbox

Bournemouth, Post Office Road

Bramhall

Bristol, Berkeley Square

Bristol, Regent Street

Bromsgrove

Bruton Place, London

Charlotte Street, London

Chippenham

Dalton Park

Darlington

Dudley, Merry Hill

Earls Court, Earls Court Road, London

Edinburgh, Holyrood

Formby

Fulham Palace Road, London

Glasgow, Princes Square

Glossop

Gosforth

Grantham

Halifax

Hampstead, London

Hatch End

Hereford

Heswall

Ipswich, Lloyds Avenue

Leeds, Crown Street

Leeds, Horsforth

Ludlow

Lymington

Melton Mowbray

Midhurst

Milton Keynes, Hub

Moseley

New Brighton

Newcastle

Newport, Isle of Wight

Newport, South Wales

Northallerton

Nottingham, Goosegate

O2 Finchley, London

Orpington

Oxford, Oxford Castle

Poole

Port Solent

Ramsgate

Reading, St Mary’s Butts

Scarborough

Sheffield, Devonshire Street

Sheffield, The Moor

Shirley

Southport, Old Bank

Stafford

Staines

Stoke

Stourbridge

Sudbury

Torquay

Uxbridge

Wakefield

Walsall

Wapping

Wardour Street, London

Weston-super-Mare

Whiteley Village

Whitstable

Wrexham

Image copyright Getty Images

A brief history of Pizza Express

1965: Pizza Express founder, the late Peter Boizot, brought a pizza oven from Napoli and a chef from Sicily to open his first restaurant in London’s Soho.

1992: Mr Boizot grew his empire over the following almost-three decades before selling it for £15m to Hugh Osmond and Luke Johnson, the man who was – until recently – chairman of Patisserie Valerie. They floated it on the stock market the next year and ultimately sold out in 1997 when it was worth £150m.

2003: It was taken private again in a £278m deal by two private equity firms who then floated it two years later – although it lasted less than a year on the public markets before it was returned to private equity hands.

2014: It changed hands again, this time to be acquired for £900m by its current owner, Chinese private equity house Hony Capital.

2020: It has more than 600 restaurants globally: 454 in the UK, including five franchises; 19 in Ireland; 24 in Hong Kong; 6 in Singapore; 14 in UAE; 60 in China; and 49 other international sites operated by franchisees.

The government has been running its Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August to try to help revive the flagging UK hospitality sector.

Diners used the Eat Out to Help Out scheme more than 35 million times in its first two weeks.

Pizza Express has been taking part in the scheme, and has been reopening restaurants that had been temporarily closed to participate.