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1,100 jobs face loss after Pizza Express announced possible closures

ABOUT 1,100 jobs could be lost at PizzaExpress after the firm announced the possible closure of about 67 restaurants today as part of a major restructuring to boost profits.

The chain said that it plans to enter into a company voluntary arrangement “in the near future.”

However, it stressed that the final outcome of the restructuring has “yet to be decided.”

PizzaExpress has also hired advisers to lead a sale process for the business.

The company said the coronavirus pandemic has been a “huge setback” for the restaurant sector, but it believes that its plan “will put the business on a stronger financial footing in the new socially distanced environment.”

Customer demand has been “encouraging” since sites reopened, with 166 outlets now back in business, it said.

Chief finance officer Andy Pellington said the “difficult” decisions have not been taken lightly, adding that the company has confidence in its actions to reduce its debt and improve its operations.

The restructuring will also involve a “significant” reduction in the group’s external debt, from £735 million to £319m, and the extension of maturities.

Labour’s shadow business minister Lucy Powell said: “The jobs crisis is clearly accelerating, with redundancies being announced every day. 

“It’s only Tuesday and just this week we’ve heard of mass redundancies in the hospitality, retail and travel sectors.

“The government is pulling the rug out from beneath businesses by ending furlough support indiscriminately and prematurely.”

Ms Powell called for an end to ministers’ “damaging” blanket approach, arguing that without support being targeted at the hardest-hit sectors, they would “be responsible for more people losing their jobs.”

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