Pizza Express has denied reports that it plans to close 150 restaurants as it wrestles with a £1.1bn debt pile and a worsening outlook on the high street.

A report over the weekend claimed that the restaurant chain, which is owned by Chinese investor Hony Capital, is considering a restructure as around 40% of its 470 UK and Ireland stores are turning a loss.

The dough balls chain retorted by stating: “95% of our UK&I restaurants are profitable and there are no plans for closures outside the normal course of business.” 

Earlier this month, the company appointed financial adviser Houlihan Lokey to prepare for debt talks with creditors ahead of the first repayment of £465mln owed to bondholders in 2021.

It comes at a time of unrest in the world of casual dining, as chains face weakening consumer confidence and higher business rates threatening their franchises.

Rival Domino’s Pizza Group PLC (LON:DOM) delivered a lacklustre first half with like-for-like orders down 3.4%, the average discount on those orders rising half a percentage point, and net debt rising to £238.8mln.

Domino’s is expected to report a weak third quarter on Thursday amid an ongoing dispute with its franchisees, who have refused to open more branches until they are granted a larger slice of the profits.

Online fast-food ‘marketplace’ Just Eat PLC (LON:JE.) confirmed its intentions to merge with Dutch competitor Takeaway.com in August, after facing pressure from food delivery giants Deliveroo and Uber Eats.