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Doubt over future of Inverness branch of Pizza Express as company considers future of branches in the wake of coronavirus pandemic

By Gregor White

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Pizza Express in Inverness's Falcon Square.
Pizza Express in Inverness's Falcon Square.

Pizza Express is considering the future of 67 of its UK restaurants, though no specific premises have have been named yet.

The national restaurant chain has a branch in Falcon Square in Inverness.

The chain is the latest High Street outlet to undertake a restructuring of its business after trading was halted by the coronavirus pandemic and the news comes just a day after the government launched its Eat Out to Help Out plan to boost the restaurant trade.

Pizza Express said in a statement that customer demand had been "encouraging" at restaurants that have reopened and that plans for further re-openings were well underway.

Zoe Bowley, UK and Ireland managing director for Pizza Express, said that while the financial restructuring would be a "positive step forward", the closures would be "incredibly sad for our Pizza Express family and we will do everything we can to support our teams at this time".

Pizza Express is expected to announce a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in the near future, which is an insolvency procedure that allows a company with debt problems to reach agreement with creditors regarding payment of all, or part, of its debts.

Andy Pellington, group chief finance officer at Pizza Express, said: "While we have had to make some very difficult decisions, none of which has been taken lightly, we are confident in the actions being taken to reduce the level of debt, create a more focused business and improve the operational performance, all of which puts us in a much stronger position."

Julian Cox, partner at law firm BLM, said: "Pizza Express is yet another household name that has been pushed to the brink by Covid-19.

"Whilst the government has attempted to encourage people through the doors with Eat Out to Help Out, the initiative is clearly not going to be enough to protect the sector in the long term."

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