PizzaExpress is cooking up a delivery-only pasta service, separate to its pizza restaurants, in response to a heavy loss of sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move comes off the back of the company’s existing delivery agreement with Deliveroo, in which a select 13 London-based pizzerias have been offering a partial menu to customers on a delivery-only basis. This new pasta service is more than just an extension of this existing service with Deliveroo, though. According to the Financial Times, PizzaExpress is considering unveiling this service as its own, unique brand, marketed independently to the overarching PizzaExpress brand of restaurants.
Many restaurant chains have had to adapt their services towards online, delivery-only models in response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, reports suggest that PizzaExpress’ planned brand extension is part of a wider restructuring of the company in light of pre-existing and ongoing financial woes. In 2018, the company saw its pre-tax losses reach £55m. It was further revealed that it had built up debt of around £1.12bn.
A spokesman for PizzaExpress told BigHospitality that the company is “taking the right steps to ensure PizzaExpress’ next 55 years are as successful as the last 55 years”.
In order to future-proof, the company opened ‘Za’ in March 2019, a service offering grab-and-go pizza by the slice in London. The pandemic has only increased a growing appetite for online delivery and home dining. By introducing an independent takeaway pasta service, the company hopes to grab a larger slice of the growing home delivery sector and ensure that it is able to adequately respond to financial woes and adapt to a changing market.
The coronavirus pandemic has only exasperated the underlying issues threatening the chain and its wider industry.
The casual dining sector has been one of the worst hit by the global pandemic. Already, ‘Casual Dining Group’, which owns Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas, has announced plans to appoint administrators. Meanwhile, both Carluccio’s and Chiquito have already fallen into administration.