Zizzi and ASK close dozens of restaurants across UK with over 1,000 job losses

Azzurri Group CEO says coronavirus has had ‘profound impact’ on casual dining

Conrad Duncan
Saturday 18 July 2020 00:49 BST
Azurri Group is the latest company to announce hundreds of job losses due to the economic impact of the pandemic
Azurri Group is the latest company to announce hundreds of job losses due to the economic impact of the pandemic (PA)

Up to 1,200 jobs are set to be lost after the owner of the chains Zizzi and Ask Italian said they would not reopen about 75 restaurants following the coronavirus pandemic.

Azzurri Group has been sold out of administration to TowerBrook Capital Partners, in a deal which will see about 225 restaurants and shops saved, protecting around 5,000 jobs.

However, approximately 75 sites fall outside the scope of the deal and will subsequently not reopen.

“The Covid-19 crisis has had a profound impact on the casual dining sector, bringing many businesses like ours to a standstill,” Steve Holmes, chief executive of Azzurri Group, said.

“Despite being a successful operator, the immediate loss of revenue during lockdown meant that we have had to make some incredibly difficult decisions to protect the business for the long term.

“It is with deep sadness that this process will result in the permanent closure of a number of sites and that we must say goodbye to greatly valued employees across our brands.”

It is currently unclear which restaurants will be affected.

TowerBrook will invest around £70m to support Azzurri Group and plans to reopen 40 pizza restaurants next week, followed by its Coco di Mama chain and more Ask and Zizzi sites later in the summer.

“Looking forwards, TowerBrook is a strong new partner who shares our ambitions for the future,” Mr Holmes added.

“Their additional investment has enabled us to preserve the majority of our restaurants, stores and jobs and I am confident that, under TowerBrook’s ownership, Azzurri will navigate the period ahead successfully.”

The dining sector has been knocked hard by the lockdown and pandemic, with a raft of restaurants having announced closures and jobs losses in recent weeks after seeing sales decimated.

Frankie and Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group put up to 3,000 jobs on the line after announcing it was going to close 125 sites, and Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge owner Casual Dining Group said it would close 91 restaurants after calling in administrators.

Pizza Express is reportedly planning to axe around 75 sites across the UK.

Additional reporting by PA

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