Another restaurant chain announces closures and up to 1,200 jobs to go

Zizzi, Norwich. Pic: Archant

Zizzi, Norwich. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

The owner of Ask Italian and Zizzi, with restaurants in Norwich, will not reopen around 75 of its sites.

Ask Italian in Chapelfield, Norwich. Pic: Ask Italian

Ask Italian in Chapelfield, Norwich. Pic: Ask Italian - Credit: Archant

The Azzuri Group is being taken over by investment firm TowerBrook Capital Partners, which plans to keep open 225 restaurants and shops, protecting 5,000 jobs. But approximately 75 sites fall outside the scope of the deal and will subsequently close.

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It is unclear whether some local restaurants will be affected. Ask Italian is in Chapelfield Plain, Norwich and also has a site in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich, Suffolk. Zizzi is in Tombland, Norwich, but this restaurant has confirmed it will be reopening for eat-in and takeway from Monday, July 20.

It comes as the dining sector has been knocked hard by the lockdown and coronavirus pandemic, with a raft of restaurants having announced closures and jobs losses including Frankie and Benny’s, Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Cafe Rouge.

Pizza Express is also reportedly planning to axe around 75 sites across the UK.

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Steve Holmes, the chief executive of Azzurri Group, which also owns the Coco di Mama and Pod fast-food chains, said the Covid-19 crisis had 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,” he said.

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“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.”

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