Aarati, who works in the NTI newsroom, but whose duties have never been specified due to the look of acute sternness you get whenever you mention her job in any capacity, has a favourite pizza company. She loves Pizza Express, saying it serves food just like the homemade pizzas she used to get as a girl in Jamaica, cooked by her mother and delivered to the table, apparently, in a thin square cardboard box.
She was devastated last week when we reported that the Chinese owners of the national brand were investigating their options, with doubts being raised about the future of the company. This is why we had to wait for her to go for lunch before posting this article about the owners of the dough ball specialists being all but wiped out in a restructuring expected to involve a debt-for-equity swap.
The current owners (Hony Capital) acquired the brand in 2014 and, it was reported, wanted to inject more capital into the business, but it now looks as if they will be beaten away by bond holders. Don’t tell Aarati, but word on the street is that a restructuring could take place as early as next week, possibly including some restaurant closures. Dear God, not the one in Brixton, please …
To place this in context, the group reported a 1.1 per cent increase in revenues just last December, taking £549m. International sales rose by 1.9 per cent and Aarati changed her favourite to the Calabrese. Things change so quickly (she was always an American Hot (with a soft egg on top) kind of girl).
This comes in the same week as we had to pick Billy (Get A Grip) off the floor when investigating the story about the holding company of Clinton’s, AG Retail, selling the company to a connected party, ERL, a subsidiary of Lakeshore. The secured creditor, Barclays, will not suffer any shortfall, which means we will all sleep more soundly in our beds tonight, but it does remind us that it was just last year when Clintons asked its landlords to allow it to close a load of their stores due to falling numbers and higher rents on the high street. Unsecured creditors will all but be wiped out, but this is not why Billy was on the floor. He cannot believe that people still get folded bits of cardboard to celebrate special occasions.
“£2.75 for THAT?!” he cried, when Tracee opened a soppy card from her boyfriend, Thug, celebrating their second week together. Thug left the sticky price tag on the back of the card (we all thought he did so deliberately, to show he was ‘a player’). Billy’s more a TikTok kind of boy and likes to send all of his greetings by what he calls, ‘social Karaoke’.