Pizza Express 'planning market return'

Restaurant chain Pizza Express could soon be back on investors' menus after it was reported to be planning a London stock-market return by January.

Restaurant chain Pizza Express could soon be back on investors' menus after it was reported to be planning a London stock-market return by January.

The firm, which was taken private just two years ago, is expected to float for up to £900m (€1.3bn) and is understood to have lined up David Ross, co-chairman of Carphone Warehouse, as its chairman.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Ross would expand the chain in the UK and has not ruled out international expansion.

A flotation is expected to bring in major profits for private equity firms TDR Capital and Capricorn Ventures, which own the pizza chain’s parent company Altia.

Pizza Express has around 300 outlets in the UK and Ireland, and was recently said to be delivering double-digit percentage increases in like-for-like sales.

TDR and Capricorn took the chain private in a £278m (€412.2m) deal in 2003, after a decade on the stock market. This was followed by a deal for the 180-strong chain of restaurants trading as ASK or Zizzi in 2004, enabling TDR and Capricorn to enhance purchasing power and strip out costs.

Pizza Express traces its roots back to 1948 when founder Peter Boizot tasted his first pizza in Florence and decided to recreate the experience in London.

The first Pizza Express oven was brought from Rome and was set up in the company’s first restaurant in the capital’s Soho area.

No banks are understood to have been hired for the flotation yet.

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