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Mon 23rd Apr 2018 - Karen Jones to head Prezzo as Hendry Pickup leaves
Karen Jones to head Prezzo as Hendry Pickup leaves: Prezzo chief executive Jon Hendry Pickup is to leave the company after steering it through a restructuring that will result in the closure of almost 100 outlets. Hendry Pickup, who joined the group less than two years ago, is handing the reins to Karen Jones, the former chief executive of Spirit Group, and a co-founder of Café Rouge, after a transition period. Jones, who chairs Food & Fuel, a group of gastro-pubs and cafe-bars in London, will assume the role of executive chairwoman. Jones, who is also chairwoman of Hawksmoor and Mowgli, will take full responsibility for the Prezzo brand, its strategic direction and the execution of the transformation plan alongside Prezzo’s existing management. Jones said: "I am very much looking forward to building on Prezzo's 18-year heritage to create a group of welcoming Italian restaurants that customers love for their unwavering hospitality and their consistent combination of price, quality and service. Under the stewardship of Jon and the rest of the leadership team, important steps have already been taken to move Prezzo forward. There is now a reshaped estate of excellent sites filled with skilful people ready to create something compelling together. I look forward to working with Jon over the next two months and building upon the progress made to date." Hendry Pickup added: "Prezzo is in extremely capable hands with Karen and I look forward to watching Prezzo flourish, as I know it will." Like Prezzo, Spirit was backed by TPG, the American private equity firm, although there has been speculation recently that Carlyle Group, which holds more than a third of Prezzo’s senior debt, may seek to seize control from TPG via a debt-for-equity swap. Prezzo was founded and floated by the Kaye family and taken private by TPG in January 2015 in a deal valuing the business at £304m. After the buyout, the group expanded from about 250 restaurants to 300, revamped its Prezzo brand and launched a third brand, Mexico. At its peak it had 300 restaurants but its growth ambitions were dealt a blow by sustained pressure from rising staff costs and lower footfall, as well as higher ingredient costs because of the fall in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote. In March, the company won approval from its landlords to close 94 outlets via a Company Voluntary Arrangement with its creditors, putting 500 jobs at risk. The closures, which are due to be completed by next month, include all 33 Chimichanga Tex-Mex restaurants and three opened recently under its fledgling Mexico brand.

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