Pizza Express to take on 1,000 employees

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Pizza Express is planning to recruit 1,000 employees as part of its preparations for reopen its 360 UK restaurants over May and June.

The recruitment drive, set to be announced today, comes despite the chain having lost more than 2,000 jobs as it closed 73 outlets via a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), and cut costs over the past year.

The recruitment campaign will include 300 posts under the government’s Kickstart programme.

Zoe Bowley, 49, Pizza Express’s managing director, said: “We’re expecting millions of people to flock back to restaurants as restrictions are eased, so we are delighted to be in a position to be able to recruit 1,000 new team members to help us serve customers at Pizza Express.”

Pizza Express opened 118 outlets last week for outdoor dining in gardens and terraces, with the whole chain opening over the next month or so for indoor dining in line with restrictions. Customer numbers are expected to rise again on June 21 as social distancing is relaxed.

Last year’s closures under the CVA, an insolvency procedure designed to allow operators to shed or redraft uneconomic leases, included the original site on Wardour Street, Soho, launched by founder Peter Boizot 56 years ago.

Since 2014 the company has been owned by Beijing-based Hony Capital.

Restructuring in recent years has seen the chain’s total debt fall from £735m to £319m.

Allan Leighton, the former Asda boss, is the current chairman, and David Campbell, formerly chief executive of Wagamama is group chief executive.

Bowley added: “As well as helping locals to get together with friends and family, we support 360 local economies across the UK as an employer for anyone looking for a fun, flexible and rewarding career.

“Our pizzerias are a great place to work, and our teams love welcoming new colleagues.

“After all the challenges and uncertainties of the last year, we’re very excited to be open and recruiting again.”

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