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Thu 7th Oct 2021 - David Campbell steps down as PizzaExpress group chief executive
David Campbell steps down as PizzaExpress group chief executive: PizzaExpress group chief executive David Campbell has stepped down from the business for personal reasons with immediate effect. Managing director Zoe Bowley and chief business officer Jo Bennett will report directly to chairman Allan Leighton until a successor is appointed. Campbell was appointed PizzaExpress group chief executive in November last year as the chain announced the completion of its recapitalisation. He led the turnaround of the 357-strong PizzaExpress with the company heavily investing in its estate and using the lockdowns to focus on parts of the business that were still able to trade – delivery and retail. Campbell, who led the turnaround at Wagamama, and most recently Bill’s, where he was executive chairman, was joined on the new PizzaExpress board by Leighton and Bowley as well as Andy Pellington, who stepped down as chief financial officer earlier this year. 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 in late 2019, after helping put the former back into like-for-like sales growth. At the time of Campbell’s appointment PizzaExpress also 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 saw its total debt reduced from £735m to £319m, and included the immediate injection of £40m of new capital. In addition, the business was provided with a further £90m of funds available from the new owners. The recapitalisation saw the Beijing-based Hony Capital, which acquired PizzaExpress for circa £900m in July 2014, depart the business, but keep its China-based operation. Last week PizzaExpress reported it has outperformed the market since “Freedom Day” following a “transformational” year for the business. The company reported revenue of £182.5m and Ebitda of £22.2m for the period from 4 January 2021 to 5 September 2021. It said sales had outperformed the CGA Peach market tracker for every week but one since the return to unrestricted dining on 19 July (up 3.7% ahead of the market for the seven weeks 19 July to 5 September). At the Propel Multi-Club Conference last month Campbell said the brand would refurbish 300 of its UK restaurants over the next three years and open 50 new sites, after the business was left “heavily under invested” by its previous owners.

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