The Azzurri Group has been acquired by TowerBrook Capital Partners via a pre-pack administration process, but 75 sites will close.

Azzurri, which is made up of 301 restaurants including Zizzi, Ask and Coco di Mama, said when the coronavirus hit it acted “swiftly to protect its employees and customers, deciding to close all restaurants ahead of the government’s lockdown.

”Azzurri took all possible steps to protect the financial position of the business by ceasing all capex, renegotiating rental payments and food supplier costs and furloughing all restaurant staff and non-critical central staff.”

It also appointed KPMG to evaluate its options.

TowerBrook has pledged £70 million to restructure Azzurri’s balance sheet, including reducing its debt, and allow funds for future growth.

However, 75 sites will close and Pod will become a delivery-only brand. This news will cut around 1,200 jobs across the group.

Azzurri now plans to reopen 40 ASK Italian and Zizzi restaurants next week, followed by more restaurants and Coco di Mama sites later this summer.

“The covid-19 crisis has had a profound impact on the casual dining sector, bringing many businesses like ours to a standstill,” said Azzurri CEO Steve Holmes.

“Despite being a successful operator, the immediate loss of revenue during lockdown meant that we have had to make some incredibly difficult decisions to protect the business for the long term.

”It is with deep sadness that this process will result in the permanent closure of a number of sites and that we must say goodbye to greatly valued employees across our brands.

“Looking forwards, TowerBrook is a strong new partner who shares our ambitions for the future. Their additional investment has enabled us to preserve the majority of our restaurants, stores and jobs and I am confident that, under TowerBrook’s ownership, Azzurri will navigate the period ahead successfully.”