By Jason White
Pizza Express have invested £93 million this year alone in order to the secure their ‘long term future.’
The popular high-street chain have invested the money into their FutureExpress model in order to restructure their restaurants and Ray Lydon, Operations Manager for the firm in Scotland, believes now is the ‘perfect time’ for this despite estimated debts of around £1.8millon per store.
“Investment and innovation are always good for business if done with the right research and implementation and we believe FutureExpress will put us in a strong position to be able to trade for another 50 years and give us some good visibility on the high street and regenerate our customer base.”
They believe investing this money will make their profits stronger while stopping the firm becoming complacent and Steph Hunter, manager of the Stirling branch agrees this is a ‘good step forward’ for the chain.
“From FutureExpress, what is changing is a re-structuring of the restaurant, for example, every restaurant would have a bar in it which then means that people waiting for tables can have a seat at the bar, we’re trying to make it more personalised to the customer’s needs and make sure they are getting the best experience possible.
Investing the money is a good idea as moving with the times is going to change people’s perceptions on us from being a historical one of which they have fond memories to somewhere very current, it will hopefully introduce a new market, grow the company, grow our profits and allow us to be as strong for the next 50 years that we have been for the last 50.”
Originally founded as a unique family style Italian restaurant, Pizza Express have recorded loses in their last two years and Andrew Black, BBC Scotland’s Business News Presenter, believes online take out services leading to discount codes are the source of the problem.
“Food-lovers are increasingly turning to online home delivery firms like Deliveroo, so traditional high-street chains like Pizza Express have been heavily discounting their food to tempt people back.
It’s these challenges which contributed to the collapse of Jamie’s Italian chain, while other well-known casual dining names like Prezzo, Carluccio’s and Byron have had to take action such as closing outlets or asking for rent cuts.”
Despite this, Steph believes the codes aren’t the problem and offer a means of advertising for the company.
“I see a lot of people coming in purely to use their discount codes and with things like Unidays and Taste Card all advertised and the fact that we’re a partnered restaurant, gives us an advantage as they are advertising for us which is publicity we aren’t having to do ourselves and if they weren’t doing it for us then perhaps people wouldn’t visit as much.
It’s about trying to get people in through the door and if they think they they’re getting a good deal they are more likely to come in.”
Pizza Express was founded in 1965 by Peter Boizot in Soho in London and it became the first official pizza restaurant in the UK.
It is currently owned by Chinese investment company Hony, after buying the company from UK equity firm Cinven in 2014.
They have over 500 stores worldwide,employing more than 10,000 people in the UK and have until 2021 to start paying off their £1.1 billion in debt.