Prezzo to close 94 "underperforming" restaurants

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Prezzo to close 94 "underperforming" restaurants

Related tags: Future, Private equity

Prezzo has confirmed it has entered in to a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) that will see almost a third of its restaurants close.

The group, which employs around 4,500 staff across its eponymous Italian chain, Chimichanga, Caffe Uno, Cleaver and MEXIco brands, will shut 94 sites - leaving it with 208 restaurants.

The company said it was seeking approval from its creditors to reduce the rent costs at some of its sites and reshape the business around a “smaller, profitable” portfolio of with “strong growth prospects”. 

Creditors will vote on the plans in the next two to three weeks, and closures are expected to begin in April 2018.

It comes after Prezzo, which was bought by private equity firm TPG for £304m in 2015, appointed consultants at AlixPartners​ to review its options last month.

Prezzo CEO Jon Hendry-Pickup said in a statement that though Prezzo’s core business was “fundamentally strong with fantastic potential”, a number of its restaurants were “underperforming” due to “well-documented pressures” facing the casual dining sector.

According to research from Colliers International the group saw its total business rates bill rise 23%​ to £15.9m over the last year, with increases of over 100% at some of its London sites.

“While we continue to be profitable and cash-generative, our position is not sustainable, so we must take decisive action now to ensure we’re able to thrive in the future,” said Hendry-Pickup.

He added that the company would attempt to redeploy affected team members to other sites.

New offer

Prezzo has begun implementing a rebrand of a number of its restaurants in a bid to turn around its fortunes.

“We understand we need to be proactive in meeting the evolving needs of our customers, and are working extremely hard to make Prezzo a memorable and distinctive brand and experience,” said Hendry-Pickup.

“We’re seeing some early successes – the new ‘look and feel’ we’ve been piloting in a number of our restaurants, for example, has been very well-received by our customers leading to more visits and better sales.

“I firmly believe the business has a bright future. While the decision to enter into a CVA process was extremely tough, it was crucial to ensuring we’re able to continue to serve our customers for years to come.”

Last year Prezzo put 27 restaurants, including eight Chimichanga sites, up for sale following poor trading.

Byron is also set to close up to 20 sites this year ​under a CVA, while Jamie’s Italian is shutting 12 restaurants after its CEO admitted the brand became “complacent” and failed to invest in its sites.

Related topics: Business

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