PizzaExpress plans to shut 15% of UK outlets, cut over 1,000 jobs

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Privately held restaurant group PizzaExpress said on Tuesday it could shut nearly 15% of its UK restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk, as part of a restructuring deal to help reduce debt and infuse capital.

The company, which operates 449 restaurants in the UK and is currently owned by Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital, said it had started a sale process to find a new owner.

PizzaExpress said it will soon launch a company voluntary arrangement in the UK as part of an agreement with some of its secured creditors and its majority shareholder.

The deal includes reducing the company’s external debt from 735 million pounds ($959.84 million) to 319 million pounds, a provision of up to 144 million pounds and the divestment of its mainland China business.

The restaurant group said its bondholders would acquire the company if a third party does not outbid them.

PizzaExpress, which had to shut its outlets during coronavirus lockdowns, said 166 of its restaurants are now open and further reopenings are well underway.

“Customer demand has been encouraging at 60 restaurants that reopened in early July,” it said.

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