Who owns Pizza Express and why does it face administration?

A general view of a Pizza Express sign
The future of Pizza Express is uncertain (Picture: John Keeble/Getty Images)

Pizza Express may be the proud creators of the nation’s beloved dough balls and garlic butter dip, but Britain’s love of a Romana pizza with the food chain’s specialty side may not be enough to save it, as the Italian restaurant franchise has reportedly hired financial advisors for help in handling crunch talks with creditors.

The chain, which employs around 14,000 people across more than 600 sites around the globe, is said to be in financial trouble and struggling under a mountain of debt.

So who owns the famous Italian restaurant chain and why has such a stalwart of the high street food scene hit hard times?

Who owns Pizza Express?

Pizza Express was founded in 1965 by the late Peter Boizot. The first restaurant opened in Soho, London, and pizza was sold for two shillings (around 10p) a slice. At the start of the Pizza Express empire, Mr Boizot’s takings were only £3.

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The business man died in December 2018, but by then the restaurant chain had already been acquired by Hony Capital, a Chinese private equity firm, in an deal said to be worth £873 million in 2014.

Hony Capital are still the current owners of Pizza Express and the company facing talks about the restaurant chain’s future.

The logo of PizzaExpress sits on an employee's apron as he places toppings on a pizza
The restaurant chain still have time to turn things around (Picture: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Why does Pizza Express face administration?

Pizza Express is currently in trouble because it has a pile of debt worth an estimated £1.1 billion.

Sales in the UK and abroad fell last year, meaning that the company’s operating profits were more than offset by the high interest payments – valued at around £93 million per year – owed on the escalating debt.

The debt payments have left Pizza Express in the red for the last two years, and in 2018 the business made a loss of approximately £55 million.

A Pizza Express restaurant seen in central London
Will Pizza Express face the same fate as Jamie’s Italian? (Picture: Steve Taylor/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

However, while Pizza Express may face administration at some point in the future, that is only if they don’t get their finances in order and the company back into the black.

At the moment the restaurant chain is not in imminent danger because the owners have until 2021 before they need to start paying back over £600 million owed to outside creditors and then until 2022 to pay back £200 million of unsecured debt a year later.

But, with huge companies like Thomas Cook hitting the headlines for crumbling under debt and high street restaurant chains such as Jamie’s Italian folding, the future of dough balls and garlic dip on the high-street looks uncertain.

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MORE: Fears Pizza Express is about to fold as bosses hold urgent talks with creditors

MORE: What happens now that Thomas Cook has confirmed it has collapsed?

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