Prezzo plots move into QSR with takeaway pasta concept

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Photo credit: prezzorestaurants.co.uk
Photo credit: prezzorestaurants.co.uk

Related tags Prezzo Casual dining Multi-site QSR London Pizza Pasta

Prezzo is plotting a move in the QSR market with the development of a takeaway pasta concept that will have branches in UK train stations.

Chief executive Dean Challenger told The Telegraph​ that the group is in the ‘early stages’ of planning a new Prezzo ‘Pronto’ chain, which will see it break away from its traditional sit-down dining model.

“Train stations have options like Upper Crust, KFC, Burger King, but there’s nothing available at a slight level above these. I think there’s a gap there,” he said.

The menu will take cues from the US grab-and-go market and feature takeaway pasta dishes and pizza served by the slice.

“We’ve got a model that works because pasta and pizza are relatively quick.”

News of the plan follows a turbulent period for Prezzo, which announced in April last year that it would be closing 46 loss-making sites across the country​ following a strategic review of the business.

At the time, the group said soaring inflation had made it impossible to keep all its restaurants operating profitably, and warned creditors that it would ‘likely enter into administration’ should the restructuring plan not be implemented​.

Founded in 2000 by restaurateur Jonathan Kaye, Prezzo once operated an estate of around 300 sites, but now has only 96.

Challenger told The Telegraph ​that the group​which is backed by Cain International, could expand to around 120 restaurants again. However, he said the business would never return to its peak size as high costs and soaring taxes meant casual dining chains no longer work in some parts of the country, such as small towns and more rural locations.

“If you work through business rates, inflation, national minimum wage and food inflation, small market towns, which have smaller average weekly sales, just become unviable.”

He added that any new sites would be in high footfall areas ‘where people are looking for a brand they know’.

“Shopping centres normally prefer to use chains because of the brand recognition – there’s less risk – and there will always be a space for casual dining brands wherever there’s tourists.”

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