Pizza Express has confirmed it will close 73 stores around the UK, including its Southport and Formby restaurants.

The chain also confirmed it has hired advisers to commence a sale process of the business.

The Southport chain is currently situated in the Old Bank on Lord Street, a 98-year-old grade II listed building.

Pizza Express Formby is based on Chapel Lane and only opened a little over 3 years ago.

The chain was purchased in 2014 by Chinese equity firm Hony Capital and currently runs 454 outlets.

Zoe Bowley, Pizza Express’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Unfortunately, the impact of the global pandemic has meant that we have had to make some incredibly tough decisions to safeguard Pizza Express for the long term.”

She said that the closures “will protect the jobs of over 9,000 of our colleagues”.