Restaurants

Zizzi and Ask Italian to close 75 sites, 1,200 jobs at risk

Some 75 Zizzi and Ask Italian sites are set to close after the restaurant’s owner, Azzurri Group, was acquired by TowerBrook Capital Partners.

The move has placed 1,200 jobs at risk and is the result of “unprecedented levels” of disruption in recent months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group added that the “very difficult” decision in no way reflects the quality of these team members, but has been made necessary by the “very different operating environment that the business now finds itself in”.

Azzurri said that at the outset of the crisis, the business acted “swiftly” to protect its employees and customers, deciding to close all restaurants ahead of the Government’s lockdown.

In order to support Azzurri’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, TowerBrook has now committed over £70m to restructure the balance sheet and provide capacity for future growth.

As a result of this process, which has been completed consensually with Azzurri’s lending banks, the group’s debt will reduce “significantly”. Azzurri said this transaction allows the business to “reopen at the right time, maximise its recovery in the period of social distancing ahead and to secure the long-term future of the business”.

Steve Holmes, CEO 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.”

He added: “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. We look forward to welcoming customers back in the near future and to our next chapter with optimism.”

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