This weekend (12-13 October) The Telegraph reported that lenders feared around 40% of PizzaExpress’ UK estate is running at a loss.
One source told the newspaper that an option under consideration by bondholders is to enter into company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to close stores that are in the red.
Any such plan could put more than 150 restaurants and an estimated 3,300 jobs at threat.
Responding to the story, a PizzaExpress spokesperson says that 95% of its UK and Ireland restaurants are profitable, and that “there are no plans for closures outside the normal course of business”.
Speculation has been growing around the future of the 54-year-old casual dining chain after reports last week that it was preparing for debt talks with creditors.
Questions around its viability last arose back in May, when it posted a pre-tax loss of £55m for 2018, while EBITDA fell 15% to £80.2m.
In the same filings PizzaExpress revealed it had debts of £1.12bn, around £400m of which is a loan from its parent company.
The company, which operates more than 600 restaurants worldwide, has been expanding in Asia following its sale to Chinese private equity group Hony Capital in 2014.
In March this year, in a bid to 'future-proof' the business, the brand began trialling an overhaul of its menu, design and service in the UK.
That same month it is also took its first steps into the grab-and-go sector with the launch of pizza by the slice concept Za in the City.