PizzaExpress to permanently close 73 UK outlets, impacting 1,100 jobs

(Reuters) – Privately held restaurant group PizzaExpress said on Tuesday it would close 73 restaurants in the UK, impacting 1,100 jobs, as coronavirus lockdowns and higher costs hurt its business.

The UK-based restaurant chain said it has launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to improve its finances by reducing rental agreements and temporarily moving from quarterly to monthly rents.

“Hard as this process is, it will protect the jobs of over 9,000 of our colleagues,” Zoe Bowley, the company’s UK and Ireland managing director, said in a statement.

PizzaExpress said it would seek approval for the CVA proposals from its creditors by way of a virtual meeting on Sept. 4.

Earlier this month, Chinese buyout firm Hony Capital decided to cease control of PizzaExpress, which it bought for 900 million pounds ($1.19 billion) in 2014, to creditors in a debt-for-equity swap.

The company joins the long list of UK’s high street restaurants chains that have closed outlets and cut thousands of jobs, seeking to restructure their businesses in the face of the pandemic.

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