Published: 12:57, 04 August 2020
| Updated: 13:11, 04 August 2020
Pizza Express restaurants across Kent are at risk of closure as the chain looks to cut costs amid the economic fallout of coronavirus.
In a decision the company says is unrelated to this wider restructure, its restaurant in Maidstone - which features the Music Room and opened in 1989 - is to be closed due to “unsustainable” refurbishment and repair costs.
The chain currently operates 12 branches across the county and has announced it is looking to shed around 1,100 jobs nationwide by closing down around 15% of its venues across the UK.
Pizza Express restaurants can be found at Ashford, the Ashford Designer Outlet, Canterbury, Ramsgate, Whitstable, Maidstone, Rochester, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, and two branches at Bluewater.
Writing to customers of the Earl Street venue, Maidstone music manager Ross Dines said: “Unfortunately the condition of the building has deteriorated in recent years, creating unsustainable repair and refurbishment costs. With our lease expiring too, sadly it’s time to leave.
“We’ve had some magical times in Maidstone and are sorry to say goodbye to you and to this chapter in Pizza Express’ history.”
The company says its planned restructure of the business will “address the unprecedented challenges presented by Covid-19” which have battered an already embattled casual dining sector.
Pizza Express refused to comment specifically on the future plans for specific restaurants, including the proposed opening of a branch alongside Nando’s in the £57-million Spirit of Sittingbourne development.
It says final decisions about the future of its 449 restaurants - including those in Kent - are "yet to be decided."
Zoe Bowley, UK managing director, said: “Our business has a long history of success, but the UK-wide lockdown has hit the hospitality industry particularly hard.
“While the financial restructuring is a positive step forward, at the same time we have had to make some really tough decisions. As a result, it is with a heavy heart that we expect to permanently close a proportion of our restaurants, losing valued team members in the process.”