Pizza Express

owes appaz one BILLION quid.

I know that we talked about this the other day but this is shambolic.

one of the best chains in the UK. would be a shame to see it go under tbh imo tbf

Now I don’t know for sure, but is it maybe on its 2nd or 3rd private equity owner?

I think it's owned by a Chinese outfit now - not sure if they are PE or sov?  it was PE before that and personal eqt before that.  may be missing one.

So basically the Chinese are giving the orange one last squeeze before the debt toppled the lot.

Anyone with anything significant to say to pizza express, I suggest you say it quite soon.

Pizzexpress group holdings

y/e 31 dec 17 £1.077bn borrowings (652m external, 425 internal).

EBITDA of 95m

607 shops


so if you look at the parent loan notes as just a way of allocating/extracting value then it's not quite so exciting. but 6.9x levered is still pretty punchy




So  >£1m external debt per site!

I reckon you could start and maintain a profitable pizza restaurant anywhere in the UK from srcatch borrowing a third of that

Clubbers and other knowledgable types, on a scale of 1 to 10 then (10 being most likely), how likely is PE to go bust and for Judo to be forever deprived of the bruschetta?

Going bust?

At least average.

Being then bought out of administration and run as before, minus debt?

Better than average due to sites, brand loyalty and underlying sound business model (tomato and cheese on toast has a lovely profit margin).

But there again, no one knows anything.

Could do a Benji's.  I did begin to wonder whether "(in administration" was actually part of its name.

One wonders how small independently owned pizza /fast food joints make a go of it , if pizza express goes under. Intotutively I think over expansion in areas up north and the like may have been an issue.

if you are brought up on dominos, where u get 2 41 every day, then asking locals in a small town to stump up to 20 quid or so a small pizza is going to be a stretch. 

I love pizza express, the best of the chains in my opinion 

ebitda are you ever knowingly right about anything?

asking locals in a small town to stump up to 20 quid or so a small pizza is going to be a stretch

the Italian resto in my town does amazing pizzas for 8-12 quid a pop.  They aren't small, either.




the nearest pizza place to me is Franco Manca, which I think is AWFUL.

There is nothing that I like about it and it ASTOUNDS me when I see people queuing.

Colour me confused but why is debt an issue?

Sure a billion in debt, why not 2bn or 5bn?  It’s meaningless.  

Admittedly coming from a former private equity wonk but debt is petty irrelevant if the parent firm can just lol at it and write it off with a wave of their hand.

All v sad this. The Dean Street jazz one has always been great. The now demolished Victoria one was straight outta the 60s. After the odd stutter they’ve been really reliable for the last few years when you want to ahem add some ballast to the day’s liquid consumption. 

I like the one on the king's road which also ha music

The debt isn't irrelevant because a) the parents never do wipe off it off and b) it colours everything that they do with company as they are always working to the next exit and trying to make sure they get it back 

Just not true ZG.  Chinese owners may be more than interested in buying and owning established brands than they are concerned by debt.

The last consultancy role I had (post my private equity time) was for a sovereign wealth fund which didn’t give a flying fuck about debt. They wanted halal brands throughout Europe, no matter the cost.

I liked the first Franco Manca I had as the dough was good but then I realised they only have a very limited number of options and keep changing them so it's quite possible there's nothing on the menu you fancy.

Isnt Franco Manca’s USP the uncooked dough?

FFS the Italians must scoff at this bollox

Marcus Wareing, claims to eat at Pizza Express, at least once a week for the past 20 years. He describes them as not " being the best Pizzas ever, but still very good. And no matter where you go the consistency is outstanding"

the pizza restaurant I like the best is Hai Cenato in Victoria.

Again Franco Manca is just part of the sourdough fad.

I agree with Marcus except for the Gibraltar one, which seems to make pizzas much worse than the others.

I did realise how good it was until I went to Ask.  That's terrible

Pizza Express dough balls.  The most over-rated food in the universe.

The greatest revelation of Pizza Express is that you get given a pizza cutter and you can use that in place of your knife. If it were socially acceptable I'd use a pizza cutter instead of a knife for all my meals. 

Ask is another that suffered after the founders sold out.  Back in the day when it was small enough that there was a good chance that the founder was in the branch I was in I always got excellent food and service.

If it were socially acceptable I'd use a pizza cutter instead of a knife for all my meals. 

"Would sir like the soup?"

"Erm, yes. And bring me the spinning wheel of death so I can cut my tongue to shreds whilst attempting to consume it...."

I will be a bit gutted if pizza express dies (or significantly changes) tbh. They seemed to have got the model almost exactly right in recent years.  Actively pleasant pizza and salads (their pasta has always been crap but you don't go there for pasta) in a fairly proper restaurant setting for a very reasonable price.  Hard to go wrong for a family lunch or a 'can't be ar8ed to cook' supper and the live music venues were a really good, fairly priced night out for a group of grown ups (something London is not overly blessed with). 

Just google 'ASK' and am amazed that Theo Randall is behind the menu!

‘if you are brought up on dominos, where u get 2 41 every day, then asking locals in a small town to stump up to 20 quid or so a small pizza is going to be a stretch.’

never been to Pizza Express, then?

Dominos is massively overpriced for what it is. Don't get me wrong, I love a Meteor but it's ridiculous to pay over a tenner for their stuff.

I don't mind Pizza Express, but prefer independent restaurants. Anyone else been to Radio Alice (I know it's a chain)?