The UK pizza chain becomes the latest high street name to announce major changes to its business model in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The restaurant chain is lining up a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) – an insolvency process which allows it to exit stores and cut rents – linked to talks with bondholders over its heavy debt burden.

Founded in 1965 in Soho, London, Pizza Express is now ubiquitous on British high streets, with 470 UK restaurants and a further 150 outlets internationally. It employs 8,000 people in the UK. Hony Capital, a Chinese company, bought Pizza Express in 2014 in a £900m deal, made shortly after the restaurant chain opened its first branch in Beijing. The investment firm hoped to drive the growth of Pizza Express in China.

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