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Fri 6th Nov 2020 - David Campbell appointed group chief executive of PizzaExpress
David Campbell appointed group chief executive of PizzaExpress: David Campbell, the former chief executive of Wagamama, has been appointed group chief executive of PizzaExpress, as the chain announced the completion of its recapitalisation. Campbell, who led the turnaround at Wagamama, and most recently Bill’s, where he was executive chairman, is joined on the new PizzaExpress board by former Asda chief executive and ex-Wagamama chairman Allan Leighton. Leighton, who this morning steps down from his non-executive director role at The Restaurant Group, becomes PizzaExpress chairman. They are joined on the new board by Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress UK and Ireland, and group chief financial officer Andy Pellington. Campbell led Wagamama for four years, stepping down as its chief executive in April 2017. Under his leadership, Wagamama had outperformed the market for an “unprecedented 152 consecutive weeks”. He stepped down as chairman of Bill’s and chief executive of the Richard Caring-led Ivy Collection late last year, after helping put the former back into like-for-like sales growth. At the same time, PizzaExpress has announced the completion of its recapitalisation, which the company said would give it “a strong balance sheet and significant funds to invest in growth in the years ahead”. The company’s new capital structure sees total debt reduced by over £400m, from £735m to £319m, and includes the immediate injection of £40m of new capital. In addition, the business has a further £90m of funds available from the new owners. The recapitalisation sees the Beijing-based Hony Capital, which acquired PizzaExpress for circa £900m in July 2014, depart the business, but keep its China-based operation. Campbell said: “PizzaExpress is an iconic brand, which has enjoyed much success over its 55-year history. The chance to steer the company to even greater heights in the years ahead is an honour. First, I want to acknowledge the outstanding work of Zoe Bowley, the leadership team, all PizzaExpress colleagues, and the support of business partners, during these extremely challenging times. I am very much looking forward to working with the team, and with the backing of a strong balance sheet, on some exciting times ahead.” Leighton said: “This is a unique opportunity in casual dining. With a significant recapitalisation of the company, and substantial further funds committed, we look to building on our position as a leader in the casual dining market, once covid restrictions are eased. There is a great future for PizzaExpress delivering great pizza and a brilliant customer experience.” Bowley said: “2020 has been a very tough year, and obviously remains so as we start the second lockdown. I would like to acknowledge the resilience and commitment of all our teams who have made me incredibly proud. After the reshaping of the company, we can now start to accelerate and grow PizzaExpress, with new shareholders, a strong balance sheet, and a new experienced chairman and group chief executive.” Last month, PizzaExpress announced a reduction in the size of its UK restaurant teams, which could affect 1,300 roles, as it “adapts to current market conditions” and prepares for 2021 and beyond. The company said it expected that 1,300 roles would be affected across all of its 370 UK restaurants, through a combination of voluntary and compulsory redundancies. This is on top of the 1,100 jobs lost through the closure of 73 of the group’s sites via a CVA process, which was approved by creditors in October. The company said that taking this decision now would help it “manage the challenges expected this winter while continuing to serve customers across the UK in its restaurants and at home”. Propel Insights editor Mark Wingett will look at the return of David Campbell and what his appointment means for PizzaExpress in his Premium Opinion column later this afternoon. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

US pizza concept Sbarro makes UK debut with EG Group partnership: EG Group, owner of Euro Garages, the forecourt and roadside operator, has partnered with Sbarro, the US pizza-by-the-slice concept, which operates circa 600 sites in 24 countries, to launch it in the UK. The first site under the new partnership has opened at EG Group’s Armada location in Birmingham. This is the first of five new trial openings in the UK planned for 2020 and complements five planned openings in The US by year end. The two companies said they anticipated the development of additional units in 2021 and beyond, given a successful trial. Sbarro chief executive David Karam said: “The partnership with EG Group is very exciting. It’s a natural fit between the two brands. While pizza has been a top selling food item in convenience stores for many years, Sbarro offers premium quality pizza, Stromboli and other menu items that are freshly prepared each day in store. We pioneered the concept of pizza-by-the-slice in our first location in Brooklyn, New York in 1956, and have retained the made from scratch recipes ever since. As the trend continues to shift towards freshly prepared and higher quality food offerings in the convenience store segment, Sbarro is an ideal partner for a great brand like EG Group.” Mohammed Tayab, EG Group’s food and beverage director for Europe, said: “We are excited to partner with Sbarro, a world-renowned pizza brand present in 24 countries who offer excellent choices to diners. Their focus on serving authentic New York-style pizza using the freshest ingredients will be a treat to customers looking for a fresh, tasty and convenient offering at one of our locations.”

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