Italian restaurant chain Prezzo is set to expand its operations in the UK by opening a new range of takeaway pasta and pizza shops in train stations, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

It aims to compete with established brands like SSP’s Upper Crust and Pret A Manger.

The strategic move is in response to the challenges faced by traditional sit-down dining establishments, which have been under pressure due to inflation and the cost of living crisis.

Prezzo CEO Dean Challenger was quoted by the Telegraph as saying: “Train stations have options like Upper Crust, KFC, Burger King – but there’s nothing available at a slight level above these. I think there’s a gap there.”

Prezzo, established in 2000, experienced significant growth during the casual dining boom in the late 2010s, reaching 300 UK restaurants.

But the current economic climate has hit the chain hard, leading to the closure of 46 locations and the loss of 700 jobs in 2023.

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With the number of locations now reduced to 96, the company sees the new Prezzo Pronto takeaway concept as an opportunity to increase its presence to 120 outlets.

Challenger stated that the plans are in the early stages as it explores the shift away from traditional sit-down dining.

The Prezzo Pronto menu will cater to the increasing demand for quick and convenient meal options, offering takeaway pasta and pizza slices which have proven to be popular choices in the US market.

Despite its recent downsizing, the company remains optimistic about potential growth through the Prezzo Pronto initiative.

The goal of the new stores is to attract customers who are already out shopping or doing other things.

“We’ve got a model that works because pasta and pizza are relatively quick,” Challenger stated. “Any new sites that we look at will be in high footfall areas where people are looking for a brand they know.

“Shopping centres normally prefer to use chains because of the brand recognition – there’s less risk – and there will always be a space for casual dining brands wherever there are tourists.”