LONDON -- In a move to lower operations expenses, PizzaExpress is selling off selective sites in and around London.

According to Property Week magazine, the 340-store chain has put 10 sites on the block.

"With such a large estate of restaurants, it is inevitable that some will perform better than others for various reasons," said a spokesman for PizzaExpress. "Reports of current closure plans should not be taken out of context. They represent a strategic decision taken many months ago."

The sell-off follows the closure of five poor performers in the UK in the past two months.

At its peak several years ago, PizzaExpress opened between 30 and 35 restaurants a year.

But negative sales trends, aggravated by travel declines in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, put the company in contraction mode.

The company, which went public in 1993, was sold to investor group GondolaExpress in June.

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