The group had already closed 74 sites as part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which was approved by creditors in September last year as part of a major recapitalisation and restructuring that also saw the business deleverage its debts, provide new liquidity and divest its mainland China business.
According to latest accounts published by the company, break rights inserted into the lease agreements that were compromised by the CVA gave landlords the opportunity to terminate leases.
As a result an additional 23 sites have been returned to landlords, with discussions ongoing on a number of other sites
It currently leaves the group with around 375 UK restaurants.
During 2020 approximately 2,400 roles across PizzaExpress' UK business were made redundant.
Looking ahead, as part of the group’s 18-month base case scenario of cash flow forecasting, PizzaExpress assumes sales to be 40% lower throughout 2021 with a slow recovery assumed in 2022.
The base case includes the closure of all restaurants in a third national lockdown, though this was forecast for just four weeks in February.
A second ‘severe but plausible’ scenario drawn up by the group assume further sales reductions of 15%-20% in 2022 when compared to the base case, where additional funding would be required.
Under this scenario the group would need to reduce capex plans; draw down on the £20 new funding facility; and take the option to capitalise interest, or ‘pay in kind’, rather than in cash, with respect to approximately £249m of new debt in place post-restructure.
Under the cash flow modelling, the group believes it will be in a cash positive position and able to meet its obligations.