Pizza Express closes in on consumer PR hire

Pizza Express has held discussions with PR agencies as it bids to replace incumbent QBO Bell Pottinger on its consumer PR account.

Pizza Express, battling to maintain its market share in the competitive high-street pizza market, was this week on the verge of drafting in a replacement for QBO, which will cease to represent the brand at the year’s end.

Pizza Express declined to comment on the review, which is being co-ordinated by head of brand Rob Montgomery and commercial marketing director Helen Benedict.

In recent years, Pizza Express has had to cope with the challenge of chains such as Zizzi and Strada.

Earlier this year, Pizza Express owner TDR Capital agreed a deal to take over rival Ask Central, which owns the Ask and Zizzi brands.

QBO’s PR work has included the promotion of the Pizza Express Club, a Soho jazz establishment, and the chain’s artistic interests.

QBO managing director David Wilson said: ‘Our contract was coming to an end and it wanted fresh representation.’

He added that QBO, which has worked for the chain for more than two years, would continue to represent Pizza Express on projects until the end of the year.

Pizza Express – which has more than 300 restaurants in the UK and Ireland – has traditionally relied on the quality of its product to woo customers, but a sales downturn in 2001 triggered its

first advertising push and its marketing approach has become increasingly multifaceted since then.

Pizza Express’s annual PR fees are around £75,000, according to a source close to the review.

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