Former Pizza Express chairman Luke Johnson has questioned the casual dining chain's approach to discounting.
Speaking at yesterday's Arena Christmas Lunch, Johnson said he avoided discounting as a restaurant operator, despite the continued prevalence of vouchers in the sector.
He labelled the approach of Pizza Express, the company he controlled in the mid to late 90s as "disastrous" and questioned the effect it was having on the brand's image.
"I have always tried to avoid discounting because I have always preferred to add value to the experience, rather than devalue the product and the occasion," he said. "I prefer not to be involved in giving money off because I think you undermine your pricing structure.
"I think there are more imaginative and more original ways of promoting your wares than just money off. For example, I have never ever done business with Groupon - you get hit and run customers, no loyalty and in the meantime you have to pay them to sit there.
"If I were running Pizza Express now, I would look very deeply at their whole discounting policy because I think it is disastrous, personally."
Johnson, who is an investor in restaurant businesses including Giraffe, 3 Sixty Restaurants, Feng Sushi and the Draft House, was Pizza Express chairman from 1993 to 1999.
Pizza Express declined to comment.
By Neil Gerrard
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