We’re all mortal

A certain amusement here.

Pizza Express is under mounting pressure from debts, rising costs and fierce competition, credit ratings agency Moody’s warned as it downgraded the restaurant chain.

Fears are growing for the business as Moody’s said its rising leverage ratios “may cause the company difficulties in effecting a timely and cost effective refinancing in due course”.

This is mere coincidence:

Peter Boizot, who has died aged 89, opened the first Pizza Express in Soho in 1965 and built the company into a national institution; he became a major philanthropist, supporting causes ranging from Venice, jazz, football, hockey and his native Peterborough, to the Liberal Party, for whom he stood twice as a parliamentary candidate in the elections of 1974.

But we are all mortal, even those legal beings called companies. This one’s just got a bit of a col but the Grim Reaper will come for it eventually as well. As Jeff Bezos has been saying, Amazon will go bankrupt. The only question is when.

18 comments on “We’re all mortal

  1. PE has really gone downhil in the last few years. The pizzas are soggy and the toppings sparse. It is a malaiee that has spread across th entire chain., Unless I am only going to the duds.
    I guess that it has been struggling for a while, despite its restos seeming to do well…

  2. I’ve been to Pizza Express. The ‘Express’ bit is like the ‘Withdrawal’ part of Treason May’s EU deal.

    Even when it’s mostly empty (which is always) it takes them a full 45 minutes to get your pizza, which is a lifetime when you have l̶i̶t̶t̶l̶e̶ ̶̶b̶a̶s̶t̶a̶r̶d̶s̶ darling small children who playfully unleash blood-curdling screams when they’re bored.

  3. The ovens are not allowed to get hot enough to cook the pizzas properly and they definitely have reduced the quantity of toppings. They don’t even use enough tomato paste to cover the pizza. It has been like that for over 10 years now. It probably dates back to a merger

  4. Pizza Express used to be the acceptable face of chain pizza, although I’ve not been in one for years.

    I’m amazed Pizza Hut and Dominos are still around.

  5. Perhaps those organisations he helped out could give a bit of money back to help them through these difficult times. After all, surely they don’t want to see people out of a job, people who helped them in the past?

  6. I find local , non-chain pizza restaurants FAR superior to Pizza Express, quality and value-wise. I used to love PE 15 years or so ago, but it’s more-or-less stayed the same (apart from the prices). Time to go. As seems to be a trend, it seems like the market is stretching out to poorish quality cheapish (theoretically – although god knows why people pay a tenner for a decent-sized Pizza Hut or Dominos muck) doughy pizza and expensiveish, extravagant local pizzerias, leaving nowt in the middle. Bit like Pizza Express’s appalling low-calorie pizzas (pizza with a big hole in the middle filled with leaf) – what a con!

  7. Every few years we try a commercial pizza, just to remind ourselves why we normally only eat our own. That’s to say, we buy Tesco flatbread and my wife transforms it into a delicious pizza. Recommended.

    Though we did once have wonderful commercial pizza. In Florence. And vile, in Venice.

  8. I have often wondered how many of the few remaining independent “family-run” Italian restaurants in the Home Counties are adjuncts of organised crime. The staffing levels and food quality are much better than the chains and the pricing is comparable. There must be some source of cheap finance behind them. The same goes for some of those Chinese establishments near Leicester Square

  9. @Diogenes I have Chinese friends whose parents have told them to avoid London’s Chinatown as nearly all the restaurants are Triad run…

    As for Pizza Express, like the story of GBKs issues a month ago, higher quality competitors have launched at a lower price. In London you can easily get top quality pizza for £5 (Pizza Union, Franco Manca, Pizza Pilgrims all come to mind). No idea why one would ever choose to spend more for lower quality.

  10. we buy Tesco flatbread and my wife transforms it into a delicious pizza

    Might be delicious, but it’s not a pizza.

    Altho neither is Dominos doughy crap.

  11. “Might be delicious, but it’s not a pizza.”

    We’re not in the market for authenticity – our desire’s a delish dinner.

  12. My favourite pizza place was just down the road from me in Vienna on a side street, run by a Turkish family. Brilliant pasta and pizza with nothing more than 9 Reichsmarks.

    I have a pizza parlour a few doors down from me here in Kent. 12.50 for a “medium” pizza where one needs a tracker dog to find the topping. Dough is aliright, but hardly worth the cost.

    I now by 2.50 or 3. Pound stonebaked pizzas from Tescos or Sainsburys and add my own extra topping.

  13. Never got my head around the whole going out for a pizza thing when it is so easy and cheap to do your own at home, and there’s no great mystery on how to do one that suits your tastes (just make sure you stock up on the appropriate toppings first). Going out for a meal I couldn’t possibly make myself, at least to that standard and within that time, is far more comprehensible. With pizza I just can’t see it.

  14. Same old story, entrepreneur founds business, sells out to the suits. Initially they invest more capital and leverage the brand. Then they sell to another set of suits – Cinven private equity in this case. They in turn (likely) over-expand and begin to damage the brand by running the business for short term cash flow, just like the breweries started destroying their pub franchises. Next, having goosed up the numbers,the second lot of suits sell to a third lot of suits – in this case Chinese who paid 900m for it. They intend to expand the franchise in Asia, where brand is more important than quality and certainly they have no concept of quality ingredients, value for money or decent service. Not surprising that the UK end of it is being neglected.

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