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The owner of Zizzi and Ask Italian restaurant chains said it will close 75 locations, risking the loss of up to 1,200 jobs.

Azzurri Group, which also owns the Coco Di Mama pasta chain, has been sold out of administration to TowerBrook Capital Partners.

The move will keep 225 shops and restaurants open and maintain about 5,000 jobs. The company said the coronavirus had hit restaurants hard.

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

“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.”

Last month The Restaurant Group, which owns Frankie and Benny’s, said it expected to cut up to 3,000 workers after confirming plans to shut 125 sites.

And this month two of the UK’s biggest High Street retailers, John Lewis and Boots, have announced 5,300 job cuts.

The moves come amid warnings that new economic support from Chancellor Rishi Sunak will not be enough to stop millions of workers losing their jobs.

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