Image source, Getty Images
By Michael Race
Business reporter, BBC News
Italian restaurant chain Prezzo will shut a third of its restaurants after being hit by rising costs for pizza and pasta ingredients and energy.
The group said closing the 46 loss-making sites will put 810 staff at risk of redundancy.
It said its utility bills had more than doubled in the past year along with sharp rises in costs for dough balls, pizza sauce, mozzarella and spaghetti.
The cuts will affect sites with footfall still below pre-Covid levels.
Prezzo said it would keep its restaurants in busier shopping areas, such as retail parks and tourist destinations.
Covid restrictions at the height of the pandemic forced many hospitality businesses to shut their doors and furlough staff. The financial recovery for thousands of pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues has since been hampered by rising costs, especially for energy.
Prezzo, which went into administration in late 2020 before being bought by private equity firm Cain International, said the cuts affected restaurants where “the post-Covid recovery has proved harder than we had hoped”.
Staff were informed about the closures on Monday morning and the chain said it would work to redeploy “as many staff internally as possible”.
“The last three years have been some of the hardest times I have ever seen for the High Street,” said Dean Challenger, chief executive of Prezzo.
“The reality is that the cost-of-living crisis, the changing face of the high street and soaring inflation has made it impossible to keep all our restaurants operating profitably,” he added.
As well as energy bills, Prezzo said its “core ingredients” had soared, with dough ball costs rising 15%, pizza sauce shooting up 28% and spaghetti jumping 40%.
The company added “double-digit wage inflation” had also hit its finances.
Mr Dean said the “tough decisions” had been made to “ensure Prezzo can continue serving communities with high-quality, accessible Italian-inspired meals for many more years to come”.
The 46 restaurants closing are:
BecclesBillericayBoltonBorehamwoodBostonBracknellBrentwoodBuckhurst HillBuckinghamChichesterChingfordColchesterCorbyDidcotEastbourneEghamElthamElyEpsomFleetGlasgow, St Vincent Place HailshamHarpendenLivingstonLyndhurstMaidstoneMere GreenMill HillOxfordPlymouthRedditchRedhillRugbySheppertonShirleySidcupSt NeotsStowmarketTenterdenTunbridge WellsWeybridgeWhitstableWickfordWimborneWinchesterWoodford Green