New chairman & CEO for restructured Pizza Express

PizzaExpress has appointed former Asda chief Allan Leighton as chairman and and former Wagamama boss David Campbell as CEO following the completion of a restructuring.

The new capital structure has reduced debt by more than £400m from £735m to £319m, and includes the immediate injection of £40m of new capital.

The casual dining company also has a further £90m of funds available from the new owners.

Hony Capital, the private equity firm based in Beijing, has handed over ownership of the chain via the debt-for-equity swap, although Hony is expected to retain control of Pizza Express’s operations in mainland China.

Leighton commented, “This is a unique opportunity in casual dining. With a significant recapitalisation of the company, and substantial further funds committed, we look to building on our position as a leader in the casual dining market, once Covid restrictions are eased.

“There is great future for Pizza Express delivering great pizza and a brilliant customer experience.”

Campbell added, “The chance to steer the company to even greater heights in the years ahead is an honour.”

Zoe Bowley, managing director of Pizza Express UK & Ireland, will be joining the main board, alongside group CFO Andy Pellington.

Bowley said, '2020 has been a very tough year, and obviously remains so as we start the second lockdown. I would like to acknowledge the resilience and commitment of all our teams who have made me incredibly proud.

'After the reshaping of the company, we can now start to accelerate and grow PizzaExpress, with new shareholders, a strong balance sheet, and a new experienced chairman and group chief executive.'