Pizza Express in debt talks

The 470-site casual dining chain, Pizza Express has reportedly hired financial advisers ahead of a meeting with lenders to review its debt situation.

If talks prove unsuccessful, Pizza Express may have to close sites, putting 14,000 jobs at risk.

The company has made losses for the last two years as its operating profits were more than offset by high interest payments on £1.1bn of debt. Sales in the UK and in its 150 overseas restaurants both fell last year.

The interest on the £1.1bn is costing Pizza Express a jaw-dropping £93m per year, cancelling out its operating profit last year. The debt payments have pushed the firm into the red for the last two years, with a loss of £55m in the last financial year alone.

Founded in 1965, Pizza Express is now owned by Chinese private investment firm, Hony, which bought it from UK private equity firm Cinven in 2014 for US$1.5bn (around £1.26bn).