Ask Italian and Zizzi: 75 sites will not reopen after coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 22:20 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 22:20 17 July 2020
Jobs could be at risk in Suffolk as two popular pizza chains reveal they will not reopen all of their restaurants after coronavirus.
The owner of Ask Italian and Zizzi will be closing 75 of their sites following the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are Ask restaurnats at Cardinal Park, Ipswich and in Parkway, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich, and a Zizzi in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich.
The Azzuri Group, which owns the chains, is being taken over by investment firm TowerBrook Capital Partners, which plans to keep open 225 restaurants and shops, protecting 5,000 jobs.
But approximately 75 sites fall outside the scope of the deal and will subsequently close.
It is unclear which restaurants will be affected.
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The dining sector has been knocked hard by the lockdown and pandemic, with a raft of restaurants having announced closures and jobs losses in recent weeks after seeing sales decimated.
Frankie and Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group put up to 3,000 jobs on the line after announcing it was going to close 125 sites, and Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge owner Casual Dining Group said it would close 91 restaurants after calling in administrators.
Pizza Express is reportedly planning to axe around 75 sites across the UK.
Steve Holmes, the chief executive of Azzurri Group, which also owns the Coco di Mama and Pod fast-food chains, said the Covid-19 crisis had had “a profound impact on the casual dining sector, bringing many businesses like ours to a standstill”.
“Despite being a successful operator, the immediate loss of revenue during lockdown meant that we have had to make some incredibly difficult decisions to protect the business for the long term,” he said.
“It is with deep sadness that this process will result in the permanent closure of a number of sites and that we must say goodbye to greatly valued employees across our brands.
“Looking forwards, TowerBrook is a strong new partner who shares our ambitions for the future.
“Their additional investment has enabled us to preserve the majority of our restaurants, stores and jobs and I am confident that, under TowerBrook’s ownership, Azzurri will navigate the period ahead successfully.”
TowerBrook will invest around £70 million to support Azzurri Group and plans to reopen 40 pizza restaurants next week, followed by its Coco di Mama chain and more Ask and Zizzi sites later in the summer. Pod will switch to delivery only.
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