Pizza Hut confirms 29 restaurants to close putting 450 jobs at risk

PIZZA Hut has confirmed that it will be closing 29 branches in a last ditch attempted to save the businesses, putting 450 jobs at risk.

The chain was today rescued from the brink of collapse after landlords agreed to reduce rents on its restaurant.

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They voted to support an insolvency process called a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) that would see the majority of its restaurants continue to trade.

It means Pizza Hut's portfolio will be reduced from 244 branches across the UK to 215, saving 5,000 jobs. Takeaways are not affected by the closures.

Landlords and creditors voted in favour of the CVA, which will see them take a cut on future bills to keep the company from going bust.

If it hadn't agreed to cut costs, the struggling American-Italian pizza chain would have gone bust.

It is not yet clear exactly when the restaurants are due to close.

A Pizza Hut Restaurants spokesperson said: "We are delighted to have reached such a constructive position in partnership with our landlords and creditors.

"We appreciate the support of everyone involved and this outcome provides us with a strong platform to secure the long-term future of the business including over 5000 jobs and over 200 restaurants.

"Our focus is now "business as usual" supporting all of our team members and continuing to provide a Covid-safe restaurant experience for our guests."

Pizza Hut is the latest restaurant chain to attempt to push through site closures following the coronavirus crisis.

Since the pandemic lockdown, Pizza Express, Wahaca, Wasabi, Byron and Yo! Sushi have all used the CVA process to scale back portfolios.

Retailers have also relied on the form of insolvency, including New Look, which has signed rental agreements based on sales, rather than a fixed amount.

In August, Pizza Hut said it would try not to cut jobs or close branches despite suffering huge losses earlier this year.

Even so, it put forward the CVA proposals in early September as "sales are not expected to fully bounce back until well into 2021" despite a quick and safe reopening of branches.

The high street has come under immense pressure in recent months following the shopping boom caused by the pandemic.

Many high profile retailers have been forced to turn to their landlords to ask for rent reductions to save them from going under.

In general, commercial property owners have continued to vote in favour on CVAs preferring to secure an agreement based on lower rent rather than risk empty shops if chains become insolvent.

Rival Pizza Express confirmed this month that it will shut 73 restaurants with 1,100 job losses after its own CVA deal was approved by creditors.

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