PizzaExpress has said it is "well underway" with plans to open 50 new UK restaurants as it begins to recover from the pandemic.
In a trading update, the casual dining chain said it was optimistic for the future following a "transformational" year for the business, which included a £335m refinancing deal.
It comes after a difficult 18 months for the group, which entered lockdown with a heavy debt burden. The company cut around 2,400 UK jobs and permanently closed 73 restaurants after the pandemic hit. However, it sought to hire 1,000 staff when its pizzerias reopened in May and June this year.
Now PizzaExpress is aiming to open 50 new restaurants over the next three years, including venues in Cannock and Staffordshire this month, and refurbish 300 of its existing sites.
The group reported revenues of £182.5m and earnings before tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £22.2m between 4 January and 5 September this year.
PizzaExpress said sales outperformed the CGA Peach market tracker for every week but one since restrictions on indoor dining in England lifted on 19 July.
Chief executive David Campbell, who joined the business last November and previously led Wagamama, said his optimism for the future hinged on no further restrictions on hospitality being introduced for the rest of the year.
"As long as we can keep trading without restrictions in the UK & Ireland for the rest of 2021, we anticipate a continuation of good trading for the rest of the year and are optimistic about prospects for 2022 and beyond," he said.
"Our equity businesses in Hong Kong and UAE are now trading profitably, however we anticipate these sites will remain under restricted trading for the rest of 2021 and possibly into H1 2022.
"With a strong balance sheet under new ownership and management, we will continue to drive investment to grow the brand above and beyond new openings and refurbishments."
PizzaExpress was founded by Peter Boizot in London's Soho in 1965 and now runs around 360 UK restaurants and 80 sites internationally.
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