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What does Pizza Express crisis mean for Suffolk?

PUBLISHED: 15:27 07 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:27 07 October 2019

Pizza Express owes more than £1bn.  Picture: ARCHANT/PA IMAGES

Pizza Express owes more than £1bn. Picture: ARCHANT/PA IMAGES

Archant/ PA Images

Fears are growing that Pizza Express could become the latest high street casualty as the firm's financial troubles come under the spotlight.

Pizza Express, Sudbury. Photo: Archant.Pizza Express, Sudbury. Photo: Archant.

The chain owes more than £1bn and has reportedly hired financial advisors ahead of talks with creditors.

The eatery is one of the UK's longest running casual-dining operations and was launched in Soho in 1965.

Pizza Express, Ipswich Waterfront. Photo: Archant.Pizza Express, Ipswich Waterfront. Photo: Archant.

However, it is believed tough trading conditions on the high street and rising costs have left the group struggling.

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Its most recent accounts show it had a debt of £1.1bn at the end of last year - more than £1.6m per restaurant.

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Of this debt more than £650m is due to be paid back within three years.

There are numerous Pizza Express restaurants operating across Suffolk, including Ipswich, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket.

And if the firm were to collapse it could have devastating impact on the region's already struggling high streets.

Houlihan Lokey Inc has been appointed to assist the talks between Pizza Express and creditors.

The company, which has around 600 restaurants and thousands of employees, was initially started by restaurateur Peter Boizot but in 2014 was sold to Chinese private equity group Hony Capital.

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