PIZZA HUT staff could find their jobs at risk as the restaurant chain becomes the latest firm to struggle with the impact of coronavirus.
The chain is in talks with restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal over how to steer the business going forward with measures on the table including a so-called company voluntary agreement (CVA).
Pizza Hut says its goal is to not close any branches or make job cuts but a CVA typically sees firms continuing to trade but closing some stores and axing staff to cut overheads and pay off debts.
The talks involve 244 dine-in branches in England, Scotland and Wales owned by one particular franchisee, which employs 5,700 staff.
Pizza Hut also has a handful of other branches in the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland owned by different franchise operators that aren’t affected.
Its 380 UK delivery and takeaway-only outlets also have a different owner and are not impacted.
In a statement, a spokesman said: “Despite government support, and entering lockdown from a place of strength, there has been a substantial impact on the whole restaurant sector.
“Along with many other businesses, we are looking at ways to minimise that financial impact, while continuing to trade as usual.
“Whether this will require financial restructuring in the form of a CVA or otherwise is as yet undecided.”
It’s been a tough time for the hospitality industry of late with businesses having to close for four months during lockdown and only being allowed to run a takeaway service.
Restaurants have only been allowed to reopen for diners this month, and in his mini-Budget chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a number of measures to encourage people to start eating out again.
This included cutting VAT on meals and non-alcoholic drinks to 5 per cent and the launch of a new Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme coming inyo force next month.
Pizza Hut itself has only just begun to reopen branches, although it has a reduced capacity and a limited menu to help both staff and customers to social distance.
Earlier this month, fellow Italian food chain Pizza Express warned that it “plans to close 75 of its 470 restaurants”.
While earlier in July, Burger King and Pret a Manager became the latest casualties of the crisis warning of site closures and job cuts with 2,600 possible roles between them being lost.
In addition, more than 1,900 jobs are set to be cut at Belgo, Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas.
The restaurants’ owner, the Casual Dining Group, said this month that it would shutter 91 of its 250 sites after calling in administrators in May.
Carluccio’s also fell into administration in March, after being on the edge of collapse when it was forced to close branches due to the coronavirus crisis.
It ended up selling 31 restaurants to Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), which also owns Ed’s Easy Diner, in a move that saved more than 800 jobs.
But around 40 restaurants closed for good, which left 1,019 staff without jobs.
Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza owner, SSP Group also revealed this month that up to 5,000 jobs are at risk as it expects only 20 per cent of its outlets to have reopened by this autumn.