PizzaExpress to try Marzano concept in Europe

Nov. 25, 2002

LONDON -- As part of its ongoing turnaround strategy, PizzaExpress is testing a new high-quality Italian concept called Marzano.

According to Reuters, the struggling 300-store chain announced last summer it will spend £24 million (U.S. $37.6 million) over two years revamping 80 of its older stores located in London. Marzano conversions are expected to be part of that process.

Some High Street analysts believe that the development of Marzano could cast doubt on the future of the group's Café Pasta brand.

Marzano may be nothing new at all, however. PizzaExpress co-ventured with U.S.-based Avado Brands in 1999 to launch a similar concept called San Marzano (See "U.S. San Marzano closures hit PizzaExpress' bottom line") All four U.S. stores -- two in Philadelphia and two in Washington, D.C. -- performed poorly and were closed in 2001, costing PizzaExpress $490,000.

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