Pizza Express, a UK-based restaurant group with over 60 outlets in Europe, India and the Middle East has been sold to a Chinese private equity firm for 900 million pounds, becoming the latest example of Chinese companies taking over British businesses, mentions PTI. The UK Gondola Group confirmed the sale to private equity firm Hony Capital for 900 million pounds (USD 1.53 billion). In India, the company has four resturants, all in Mumbai.
There are 436 Pizza Express restaurants in the UK along with 68 internationally – including 22 in China – employing more than 9,000 workers.
Chief executive Richard Hodgson said expansion in Asia was a “key part” of future growth strategy. The sale was a “very positive development at an exciting time for the business”, he was quoted as saying by the BBC.
Pizza Express already has 12 restaurants in Hong Kong and nine in Shanghai, Saudi Arabia and Bali.
The sale comes as The Gondola Group – which also owns UK pizza chains Zizzi and ASK Italian – opened the first Pizza Express restaurant in the Chinese capital Beijing earlier this year.
In a joint statement released by the two firms, Hony Capital said it planned to expand the brand both in the UK and in China. John Zhao, chief executive, said the firm aimed to “leverage our local expertise” to accelerate the restaurant chain’s growth in Asia. The deal is the latest example of Chinese firms buying and taking over British businesses.
Last year, Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group completed a takeover of Dorset luxury yacht maker Sunseeker International.
In 2012, China’s Bright Food bought a controlling stake in Weetabix, which owns the breakfast cereal brand as well as Alpen and Ready Brek.