Pizza Express resumes new store projects and mass refurb programme

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Pizza Express is resuming new store openings and multiple refurbishments just a year after the biggest restructuring exercise in its history.

The company was forced to close 74 restaurants in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, while an additional 23 sites were returned to landlords.

But now, after a £530m recapitalisation of the business that saw its debts slashed, CEO David Campbell insisted the casual dining chain is thinking only about growth again.

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He said that plans to launch 50 new restaurants are “well underway”, starting with a site in Cannock, Staffordshire, which is due to open later this month.

A refurbishment programme that will extend to some 300 existing restaurants has also been given the green light.

“With a strong balance sheet under new ownership and management, we will continue to drive investment to grow the brand above and beyond new openings and refurbishments,” said Mr Campbell.

The former Wagamama boss, who joined Pizza Express as part of the financing deal, said that as long as the business can keep trading without restrictions for the rest of the year then he is “optimistic” about its prospects for 2022 and beyond.

He added: “Our core dine-in business has performed well since the reopening of restriction-free dining. We are greatly encouraged to see that the combination of product innovation, enhanced service, better marketing – particularly across digital platforms – diminished discounts and prices held at 2019 levels has driven our outperformance of the market.”

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Andrew Seymour

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