The chief executive of PizzaExpress, David Page, insisted yesterday that there would be no management buy-out at the troubled restaurant group despite a further plunge in its share price.

Page said: "I am not interested in working for venture capitalists. What I shall be doing over the next two years is making the profits grow and turning this business round."

Shares in PizzaExpress fell 21p to 260p yesterday after the company reported a 4.4% decline in like-for-like sales in the first quarter ended September 22.

City analysts again speculated that the price, a six-year low, would tempt the management to consider a buy-out.

A month ago the company announced that it was stepping up its refurbishment programme on older restaurants after a 4%fall in like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter. Yesterday, the company said there had been no improvement since, particularly for the 144 restaurants inside the M25.

Page described the performance of the restaurant sector in London as "generally rather bad, to put it politely". However, he said, no other restaurant company had the same level of exposure to the London market.

He said the refurbishment programme was under way, with three restaurants in London and one in Leeds having shut down for 10 weeks.