• PizzaExpress' troubles continue as Parson resigns

LONDON -- James Parson, managing director of PizzaExpress' UK and Ireland regions, resigned Oct. 15.

According to Ananova, effective immediately, Parson will be replaced by David Sykes. The report did not disclose reasons for Parson's departure, nor did it supply any information on Sykes' history with the company.

PizzaExpress is the UK's largest domestic pizza chain. The majority of its 300-plus stores are located in the UK and Ireland, while another few dozen are located in 17 foreign countries.

Dismal same-store sales have plagued the company throughout 2002. The company's core outlets, located in the heart of London, have performed poorly in the wake of sharp tourist declines since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. It also has faced stiff competition from UK-based pizza chains, Ask and Zizzi, and U.S.-based Domino's Pizza and Pizza Hut.

The UK business press and restaurant stock analysts have blamed dated facilities at PizzaExpress' London stores for reduced traffic. The company reported recently it has earmarked several million pounds for store upgrades slated to begin late this year.

PizzaExpress stores in London's suburbs, as well as its Café Pasta concept, have performed well this year, but not well enough to offset the company's overall sales slide.

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