Oh (dough) balls: Twitter’s scared Pizza Express will fold like a calzone
Pizza Express fans were thrown into panic today following reports the restaurant chain has called in financial advisers over its mounting debt pile.
The firm has hired advisers from Houlihan Lokey ahead of talks with creditors, while a group of secured bondholders has tapped Perella Weinberg Partners, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
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The pizza chain posted a decline in core earnings for the first half of the year and had total debt of £1.12bn at the end of 2018. The restaurant group’s two tranches of debt are up for repayment in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
A source close to the high street stalwart told City A.M. the appointments were “not a case of the company folding”.
However, the reports sent social media users into a frenzy as customers speculated that Pizza Express could be in trouble.
Scores of pizza fans came out in defence of the restaurant chain, with many saying it was a reliable bet for children.
“I’m worried we’ve all taken Pizza Express for granted,” Radio 1 DJ Chris Stark wrote on Twitter.
The reports also sparked disputes about rival chains, with pizza lovers clashing over hipster alternatives such as Franco Manca and Pizza Pilgrims.
Pizza Express is the UK’s sixth most popular dining brand, according to a poll by Yougov, while US competitor Pizza Hut ranks in fourth place.
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To top it all off, writer Sara Gibbs added: “Going to be genuinely devastated if Pizza Express folds. And not just because that would make it Calzone Express.”
Pizza Express declined to comment.
Main image credit: Getty