Zizzi and Ask Italian owner to close 75 restaurants putting 1,200 jobs at risk

17 July 2020, 20:48

The owner of Zizzi and Ask Italian will not reopen 75 restaurants following the pandemic
The owner of Zizzi and Ask Italian will not reopen 75 restaurants following the pandemic. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The owner of Zizzi and Ask Italian will close roughly 75 restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic, putting 1,200 jobs at risk.

Azurri Group was sold out of administration to TowerBrook Capital Partners in a deal which will see around 225 restaurants and shops continue to operate, meaning about 5,000 jobs will be saved.

However, 75 of its sites remain outside the scope of the deal and will not reopen following the coronavirus outbreak.

It is unclear which outlets will be affected.

The dining sector has been hit hard during the lockdown, with a raft of restaurants announcing closures and jobs losses in recent weeks after seeing sales evaporate.

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, while Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge owner Casual Dining Group said it would close 91 restaurants after calling in administrators.

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

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

"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.

"Looking forwards, TowerBrook is a strong new partner who shares our ambitions for the future.

"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."

TowerBrook will invest around £70 million 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, while Pod will switch to delivery only.

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