Zoe Bowley to step down as managing director of PizzaExpress: Zoe Bowley is to step down as managing director of PizzaExpress, after more than 12 years with the business, to “pursue her next chapter”. Bowley has been managing director of PizzaExpress for the past five and a half years. Prior to that she was its chief operating officer and spent over six years as the brand’s operations director. Bowley, who was previously at Whitbread, joined PizzaExpress in April 2010 as regional director for London and was promoted to operations director in 2011. She has also been the brand’s customer experience director and group projects director. Paula MacKenzie, chief executive of PizzaExpress, said: “After 12 years, Zoe has decided this is the right time to leave PizzaExpress and, following a well-deserved break, pursue her next chapter. During her time Zoe has led the business through monumental change – most notably the pandemic, always championing the operations team. Zoe leaves with our best wishes and thanks from the entire PizzaExpress team.” Bowley said: “I’m incredibly proud of my time at PizzaExpress and over the past 12 years, it has been a true privilege to see the brand and so many people in the organisation grow. This is a brilliant brand and omnichannel business and I look forward to seeing it go from strength-to-strength.”
Christmas brings 17% bounce in hospitality like-for-like sales: Hospitality sales benefited from a Christmas bounce in December, according to the latest data from S4labour, the people, productivity and payroll system. It found that December like-for-like sales were up 17% compared to the same period in 2021. While the figure represents a significant increase on the previous year, December 2021 was marred by a wave of Omicron, washing out trade for many operators. Despite rail strikes causing disruption for much of the capital, London sales were up 32%, with the increase being driven equally by food and drink boosts. Outside of London, like-for-like sales were up 15%, with food up 13% and drink up 16%. S4Labour said the research, which compares the sales performance of sites that traded for over 20 days in December 2021 and 2022, also identified a large number of operators that were not included in the figures as they were unable to trade at all, or to a very limited extent in 2021, meaning that real like-for-likes would be higher when taking 2021 closures into account. Richard Hartley, chief innovation officer at S4labour, said: “Double digit increases will be a cause for celebration for the industry, however, the figures also put last year’s Christmas into stark perspective.”
Flat Iron eyes regional debut site: Flat Iron, the Piper-backed affordable steak concept, is looking to open its first regional site, in Cambridge. The 11-strong, Tom Byng-led business has submitted a planning application to open a site in the former NatWest bank building in Cambridge’s Market Street, which, if successful, would see the brand make its first move outside of London. Propel revealed last October that Flat Iron is set to open in London’s Kensington this spring. The business has secured the ex-Le Pain Quotidien site in Young Street for what will become its 12th site in the capital. Propel understands Flat Iron is looking for further opportunities to grow this year in both London and regionally. Last Autumn, the business opened its latest site on the former Le Pain Quotidien site in Westfield London. It followed an opening earlier in the year in Waterloo, opposite The Young Vic in The Cut.