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PizzaExpress (Restaurants) Limited
Company typePrivate company limited by shares
IndustryCasual dining
Founded1965; 59 years ago (1965)
FounderPeter Boizot
HeadquartersUxbridge, England
Key people
ProductsItalian cuisine
OwnerA group of bondholders

PizzaExpress (Restaurants) Limited,[1] trading as PizzaExpress and or Pizza Marzano, is a British multinational pizza restaurant chain, with over 500 restaurants across the United Kingdom and 100 overseas in Europe, Hong Kong, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.[2] It was founded in 1965 by Peter Boizot.[3] In July 2020, the business was taken over by its bondholders under a debt-for-equity swap with previous owner Hony Capital.[4] In November 2020, Hony Capital left the business and the group restructure was completed, helping to cut the casual dining chain's debt by more than £400 million.[5]


The Sutton, London branch, which opened in the late 1980s, and won a local architectural award
Example of food from PizzaExpress
Jamie Cullum playing live at PizzaExpress Jazz Club, 10 Dean Street, Soho, London
Veneziana Pizza

Founded in 1965 by Peter Boizot, PizzaExpress opened its first restaurant in London's Wardour Street. Inspired by a trip to Italy, Boizot brought back to London a pizza oven from Naples and a chef from Sicily.

In 1969, jazz performances began at its Dean Street restaurant, London.[6]

PizzaExpress expanded into the Republic of Ireland in 1995 and currently operates 14 restaurants there under the brand name Milano.[7] Additionally, the company owns the brand name Marzano. Originally, Marzano or Pizza Marzano was used in countries where the brand name Pizza Express was not available, as with the use of the name Milano in the Republic of Ireland, but it also exists in some territories, such as Cyprus, to differentiate between the restaurants selling primarily pizza and those offering a wider range of non-pizza meals inspired by Italian cuisine.[8] It is also used for a cafe-bar run as an adjunct to the branch of Pizza Express in The Forum in Norwich, "Cafe Bar Marzano".[9]

In 2011, PizzaExpress launched a major rebrand of its UK restaurants, with menu changes, a black and white logo and the widespread use of stripes, both for staff uniforms and for restaurant decor.[10]

In July 2014, the group was sold to the China-based private equity firm Hony Capital in a deal worth £900 million.[11] In 2017, PizzaExpress launched 'PizzaExpress Live'.[citation needed]

In October 2019, PizzaExpress hired financial advisors in preparation for its talks with creditors. The chain had been experiencing financial difficulties arising from a downturn in consumer demand for eating out.[12]

In March 2020, all UK restaurants were forced to close indefinitely due to nationwide lockdown rules introduced by the government to limit the spread of COVID-19. On 28 May 2020, select London restaurants reopened for delivery services as the government began to lift lockdown restrictions.[13][14] In July, it was announced that "dozens" of the closed restaurants would not be reopening. The restaurant group was reported to have a debt pile of £1.1 billion.[15] The next month, it was announced that the company was set to close around 67 restaurants throughout the UK and also cut 1,100 jobs.[16]

In July 2020, the business was taken over by its bondholders under a debt-for-equity swap with previous owner Hony Capital.[4] It was confirmed in September that 73 of its restaurants would close permanently, including the first ever branch in Wardour Street.[17] In November 2020, the group restructure completed and helped cut the casual dining chain's debt by more than £400 million.[18] A further 23 branches were earmarked for closure in January 2021.[19]


Privately owned since its foundation in 1965 for 28 years, PizzaExpress was acquired from Peter Boizot and Ronald Simpson by Luke Johnson, David Page and Hugh Osmond in 1993, with Johnson and Osmond becoming non-executive directors. The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange at the same time in 1993. The two major individual shareholders were Peter Boizot and David Page. Wholly owned restaurants then opened rapidly across the UK. The company owned restaurants grew from 23 in number at flotation to over 300 in 2003. Peter Boizot remained as chairman for the first 3 years of the public company.

The 32 UK franchisees were then bought back en masse in 1996.

TDR Capital and Capricorn Associates then bought the company in 2003 turning it private again.[20] In 2005, PizzaExpress re-floated on the London Stock Exchange, as part of Gondola Holdings.[21] It was then bought by private equity group Cinven as the Gondola Group in 2007.[22] On 12 July 2014 it was announced that Chinese group Hony Capital had bought PizzaExpress for £900 million.[23]

In July 2020, the business was taken over by its bondholders under a debt-for-equity swap with previous owner Hony Capital.[4] In November 2020, Hony Capital left the business and the group restructure completed, help cutting the casual dining chain's debt by more than £400 million.[18]


Since its foundation, PizzaExpress has specialised primarily in handmade pizza in the traditional Italian style.

PizzaExpress introduced the lighter pizza Leggera, the first pizza range on the high street that contains around 500 calories.[24]

In 2008, PizzaExpress started a Guest Chef Series with chef Theo Randall, of Theo Randall at InterContinental London, creating exclusive dishes for its menu.[25] Francesco Mazzei, of L'Anima, came on board in 2010 to develop a menu inspired by the cuisine of Calabria.[26]

The celebrity chef series continued in 2012 with the introduction of two pizzas made by television cook Valentine Warner. Warner introduced the fennel and salami pizza and the puttanesca pizza.[27]


PizzaExpress has supported the jazz community from its early days when it opened its first jazz club in 1969 in Dean Street, London. Since then, artists performing there have included Ella Fitzgerald and Amy Winehouse, to supporting early performances by Norah Jones and Jamie Cullum.[28]


Za is a brand of PizzaExpress offering a more casual version of the pizzeria in the United Kingdom. The first restaurant was launched at the Fenchurch Street site in February 2019.[29] The opening of Za is part of a five-year plan to refresh and improve the brand, called Future Express.[30] The menu is centered on PizzaExpress pizzas, sold by the slice, but also with the same toppings available in a wrap made from PizzaExpress dough. The brand focuses on breakfast, with flat breads, bacon, eggs or spinach. Piadina and salads form part of the lunch menu and the site is fully licensed. The Fenchurch Street test location closed in December 2019, but PizzaExpress have committed to bringing Za back in a different location as of 2022.

Za no longer operates as a brand (2023).[31]

Design and art[edit]

Peter Boizot commissioned Italian restaurant designer and cartoonist Enzo Apicella in the 1960s to design the PizzaExpress identity and over 80 restaurants.[32]

In 2002, PizzaExpress launched PizzaExpress Prospects Contemporary Art Prize with pop artist Peter Blake.[33] Peter Blake's connection with PizzaExpress was extended when he donated 26 original pieces to the Chiswick restaurant where he had been a regular customer since 1981.

PizzaExpress created a 'Living Lab' in October 2010, in Richmond, trialling new ideas from design to sound, collaborating with designer Ab Rogers.[34]


PizzaExpress introduced the Pizza Veneziana in 1977 to help save Venice from sinking by donating 5p of every pizza sold to the Venice in Peril Fund. Over the years the amount donated from each pizza has increased to 25p.[3] From 2008, donations from the Veneziana pizza go to the Veneziana Fund, where 50% is donated to the Venice in Peril Fund and 50% is given to the restoration, repair and maintenance of buildings, fixtures and fittings of buildings and works of art created before 1750.[35]

In 1999, PizzaExpress introduced its Schools Programme, a programme where the company turns its restaurants into classrooms, educating children about fresh ingredients, how to run a local business and how to cook for themselves.[36]

In 2016, PizzaExpress launched its partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, with a discretionary 25p donation from every Padana pizza sold to help Macmillan provide essential financial, emotional, medical and practical support for people affected by cancer. As of May 2017, the partnership has raised over £500,000.[37]


In 2008, the company was reported as taking an 8% cut of tips paid via credit card.[38]


  1. ^ "PIZZAEXPRESS (RESTAURANTS) LIMITED overview – Find and update company information – GOV.UK". Companies House. 31 March 1993. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  2. ^ "About PizzaExpressBusiness | PizzaExpress Business". Archived from the original on 12 October 2019. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b Chris Blackhurst (26 January 1997). "Mr Pizza and all that jazz; Profile: Peter Boizot – Life and Style". The Independent. London. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Hony Capital's PizzaExpress to cut 1,100 jobs as it agrees to restructuring deal". Private Equity News.
  5. ^ Walsh, Dominic. "Allan Leighton to be Pizza Express chairman after restructuring". The Times. London. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  6. ^ "PizzaExpress founder Peter Boizot an Industry Icon". Peach Report. 19 November 2010. Archived from the original on 5 April 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  7. ^ "About Milano". Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  8. ^ "About Us". Pizzaexpress. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Eat/Drink". The Forum. Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  10. ^ Chapman, Matthew. "PizzaExpress launches biggest rebrand to date". Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Pizza Express sold to Chinese firm Hony Capital for £900m". BBC News. 12 July 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  12. ^ Vanuzzo, Antonio; Linsell, Katie (4 October 2019). "PizzaExpress Hires Advisers Ahead of Debt Talks With Creditors". Bloomberg L.P.
  13. ^ "A message from our Managing Director, Zoe Bowley". PizzaExpress. May 2020. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  14. ^ Butler, Sarah (19 May 2020). "Pizza Express to reopen 13 London restaurants for delivery". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  15. ^ Gill, Oliver (16 July 2020). "Pizza Express to close dozens of restaurants". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  16. ^ "Pizza Express may close 67 outlets and cut 1,100 jobs". BBC News. 4 August 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  17. ^ "The full list of Pizza Express closures, and why the restaurants are being forced to shut". 8 September 2020. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  18. ^ a b Walsh, Dominic. "Allan Leighton to be Pizza Express chairman after restructuring". The Times. London.
  19. ^ "PIZZA EXPRESS IS SET TO CLOSE 23 MORE RESTAURANTS IN THE UK". Next Property. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  20. ^ Michael Hoare. "TDR and Capricorn clinch PizzaExpress deal". Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  21. ^ "Gondola, PizzaExpress Owner, Raises $240 Mln in IPO (Update1)". Bloomberg L.P. 2 November 2005. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  22. ^ "Cinven buys Pizza Express owner in £900m deal". Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  23. ^ Armstrong, Ashley (12 July 2014). "China's Hony buys Pizza Express for £900m". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  24. ^ Paskin, Becky (17 March 2009). "Pizza Express launches healthy 'salad' pizza range". BigHospitality. William Reed Business Media. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  25. ^ "Theo Randall Joins Forces With Pizza Express". Eat Out Magazine. Dewbury Redpoint. 29 September 2008. Archived from the original on 21 September 2010.
  26. ^ Kühn, Kerstin (19 November 2009). "Catering & Hospitality News". The Caterer. Jacobs Media Group. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  27. ^ "TV Cook Valentine Warner Collaborates with PizzaExpress for Limited Edition Dishes". Eat Out Magazine. Dewbury Redpoint. 15 March 2012. Archived from the original on 18 April 2012.
  28. ^ "Jazz News | Jazzwise Magazine | London". Jazzwise Magazine. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  29. ^ Coghlan, Adam (16 January 2019). "Pizza Express Confronts Casual Dining Crisis With a Pizza Cutter". Eater London.
  30. ^ "PizzaExpress to enter food to go sector".
  31. ^ (13 December 2019). "PizzaExpress to close Za spin-off site". Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  32. ^ "Meeting of the Minds". Slammed Magazine. July 2004. Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  33. ^ Tilden, Imogen (22 May 2002). "Drip paint work wins drawing prize". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  34. ^ Etherington, Rose (5 January 2011). "Living Lab by Ab Rogers for Pizza Express". Dezeen. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  35. ^ "The Veneziana Fund". Pothecary Witham Weld Solicitors. Archived from the original on 26 October 2011.
  36. ^ "Our portfolio companies and corporate responsibility". Cinven. Archived from the original on 14 March 2011.
  37. ^ "Pizza Express raises £500,000 for Macmillan in one year". UK Fundraising. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  38. ^ Hickman, Usborne; Martin, Simon (14 July 2008). "Revealed: how the restaurant chains pocket your tips". The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2017.

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