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Precarious Zizzi Follows High Street Ancestor Pizza Express Into the Supermarket

After shedding restaurants, it’s looking to the aisles for some success

Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury, as it prepares to launch frozen pizzas in supermarket Sainsbury’s
A pedestrian outside Zizzi
Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

While Pizza Hut closes 29 restaurants

Fresh from shedding restaurants and close to half its value, Italian chain Zizzi is following its High Street ancestor Pizza Express into supermarkets. It brings three frozen pizzas into Sainsbury’s, comprising of a margherita, the same pizza topped with pepperoni, or the same pizza topped with jackfruit pepperoni.

The diversification is an insurance against COVID-19’s impact on high streets and their restaurants, though Zizzi, its sibling Ask, and particularly Pizza Express were particularly vulnerable not to a pandemic but to a fragile business model which leveraged private equity debt against restaurant expansion. For the last three years, through a combination of increased rent and business rates, rising food and labour costs, increased competition, and Brexit, their number and status was already diminished. Pizza Express’ own, much more extensive foray into supermarkets with its dough balls and the majority of its pizza range likely took the shine of its restaurant experience, alongside the heavy discounting and voucher bonanza that it introduced through the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Another pizza competitor is also being diminished further, as Pizza Hut closes 29 restaurants at the cost of 450 jobs, according to the Guardian. Three of the 29 are in London. [Guardian]

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