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Pizza Express seals £530m financing deal and brings in the business big guns

Pizza Express

Pizza Express has completed its recapitalisation, giving the business a “strong balance sheet and significant funds to invest in growth in the years ahead”, it said this morning.

Allan Leighton, chairman of The Co-operative Group and the former boss of the Pandora jewellery brand, and David Campbell, the former CEO of Wagamama, have been appointed as chairman and group chief executive respectively.

The company’s new capital structure sees total debt reduced by over £400m, from £735m to £319m, and includes the immediate injection of £40m of new capital.

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In addition, the business has a further £90m of funds available from the new owners.

Mr Leighton said: “This is a unique opportunity in casual dining. With a significant recapitalisation of the company, and substantial further funds committed, we look to building on our position as a leader in the casual dining market, once Covid restrictions are eased. There is great future for PizzaExpress delivering great pizza and a brilliant customer experience.”

Mr Campbell described PizzaExpress as an “iconic brand”, which has enjoyed much success over its 55-year history.

“The chance to steer the company to even greater heights in the years ahead is an honour. First, I want to acknowledge the outstanding work of Zoe Bowley, the leadership team, all Pizza Express colleagues, and the support of business partners, during these extremely challenging times. I am very much looking forward to working with the team, and with the backing of a strong balance sheet, on some exciting times ahead.”

Back in September, creditors approved Pizza Express’ proposed company voluntary arrangement, paving the way for the high street favourite to axe 73 sites.

Ms Bowley, who is managing director of PizzaExpress UK & Ireland, will be joining the main board, alongside group CFO, Andy Pellington.

She said: “2020 has been a very tough year, and obviously remains so as we start the second lockdown. I would like to acknowledge the resilience and commitment of all our teams who have made me incredibly proud.  After the reshaping of the company, we can now start to accelerate and grow Pizza Express, with new shareholders, a strong balance sheet, and a new experienced chairman and group chief executive.”

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Andrew Seymour

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