Former Three CMO Shadi Halliwell joins Pizza Express

Halliwell: left Three in 2020 after three years
Halliwell: left Three in 2020 after three years

The under-pressure pizza chain has appointed Halliwell as chief customer officer.

Pizza Express, the casual-dining chain that is aiming for a revival under new management, has recruited former Three and O2 marketer Shadi Halliwell as chief customer officer.

Halliwell, who left her role as CMO at Three last year following a restructure, described the 56-year-old restaurant as “an iconic brand that uniquely spans casual dining, takeaway, digital delivery and retail”. She starts later this month.

While she also has three years' experience as group marketing and creative director of Harvey Nichols (between 2014 and 2017), Halliwell is resurfacing in a new sector in which competition was already fierce, and the market over-supplied with options – and that was before the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced eat-in restaurants to close for long stretches of time since last March.

Pizza Express' previous owner, Chinese private equity group Hony Capital, was forced to sell the UK company to its bondholders last year in a restructuring process that reduced the number of outlets by 73 to 377.

The new owners brought in veteran retailer Allan Leighton and restaurant boss David Campbell as chairman and group chief executive.

Halliwell's appointment comes at the same time as that of Jo Bennett, who joins from sleep products group Hilding Anders and takes up the role of chief business officer. Both will report to Campbell.

Halliwell said: “I’m delighted to be joining the team to build on the existing strengths and develop new opportunities as customers’ needs evolve in their homes and as millions of people pour back out into our neighbourhoods, high streets and city centres.”

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