Pizza Express in £50m Chinese franchise deal

Pizza Express restaurant

Pizza Express has stumped up a reported £50m to acquire its Chinese franchise partner as it looks to step up its expansion in Asia.

The transaction will see the company take control of 27 restaurants in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen, according to the Daily Telegraph. Pizza Express was bought by Chinese investment firm Hony Capital for £900m last summer.

The Chinese franchise was established in 15 years ago and Karen Zhao has been appointed chief executive of the chain’s operations in the country.

Prior to the deal, Pizza Express only owned one restaurant in China, although it made its intentions clear to grow the business at the time of the Hony takeover.

The Telegraph said that Pizza Express is aiming to open a further 15 to 20 sites in China in the next year as it seeks to take advantage of the company’s burgeoning foodservice market.

“Through our franchise partner, we have been operating successfully there for fourteen years and have built an exciting platform in the key cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing,” said Richard Hodgson, chief executive of Pizza Express. “With a model that is proven in the local market and Hony’s expertise in the region, we have the opportunity for China to become as important to us as the UK within ten years.”

Last month Pizza Express acquired seven franchise restaurants in the UAE. Pizza Express International managing director, Luke Davies, said: “This acquisition builds on our strategy to grow Pizza Express into a truly global brand, and I’m delighted to bring our UAE operation into the core Pizza Express estate. We plan to invest further in the UAE over the next five years as we double the number of Pizza Express sites across the region.”

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