The chief executive of Pizza Express has said the restaurant chain is “well underway” with a three-year programme to open 50 more sites.
Plans to increase the size of the estate contrast to the pandemic, with the firm last year completing a Company Voluntary Arrangement, resulting in the closure of 73 restaurants with the loss of 1,100 jobs.
It was among businesses that had to temporarily close sites for indoor dining during the Covid-19 crisis, adding to existing headwinds Pizza Express was already facing, from high business rates bills, to increased competition.
The company concluded a £335 million refinancing in July this year after it was taken over by bondholders. Former Wagamama boss David Campbell came in to help lead a turnaround plan.
In April it also launched a recruitment drive.
Today Pizza Express said sales since the start of the financial year in January to September 5 reached £182.5 million, with underlying profits of £22.2 million.
It added that sales outperformed the CGA Peach market tracker for every week but one since the return to unrestricted dining in July.
Campbell added that the firm “traded strongly“ through its delivery and click and collect services during the latest lockdown.
The boss said: “With a strong balance sheet under new ownership and management, we will continue to drive investment to grow the brand above and beyond new openings and refurbishments. As long as we can keep trading without restrictions in the UK & Ireland for the rest of 2021, we anticipate a continuation of good trading for the rest of the year and are optimistic about prospects for 2022 and beyond.”