Pizza Hut Delivery still has significant room to grow its core business in over 400 UK locations
Pizza Hut is a brand with a rich heritage. Founded by two brothers, Frank and Dan Carney, in Wichita, Kansas in 1958 after seeking a $600 loan from their mother, Pizza Hut is now the biggest pizza restaurant on the planet, with over 10,000 sites worldwide.
UK pizza fans first sampled Pizza Hut’s delicious offerings in 1973, when it opened a restaurant in Islington. The first Pizza Hut Delivery store opening in 1988 in Kingsbury. Pizza Hut has now grown to over 700 outlets in the UK, over 330 of which are Delivery stores and almost half are owned by more than 50 franchisees - and Pizza Hut Delivery are on the lookout for more.
Double digit growth
Pizza Hut Delivery’s model of always providing great tasting food, outstanding value and quick service has meant that the brand has enjoyed buoyant recent trading, with UK like-for-like sales over the past three years regularly in double digit growth.
Mark Fox, Business Director of Pizza Hut Delivery UK & Ireland, believes the reason behind this is simple:“Pizza Hut Delivery offers a high quality range of pizza and pasta dishes together with delicious sides, including salad and desserts, at an affordable price, delivered hot to your door well within 30 minutes. It really does go to show that staying in is definitely the new going out.”
Nick Carnes, Franchise Recruitment Manager, says: **“Our current focus on franchisee recruitment is unlike some others in the marketplace, as Pizza Hut Delivery still has significant room to grow its core business in over 400 locations. In the near term, our search is focused on the North East, North West, Yorkshire, Scotland and Lincolnshire. We believe that great candidates will always be found a territory in which to grow.”**
With regards to consumer insight, every store has a mapped out ‘trade zone’, giving franchisees the opportunity to understand individual consumer behaviour and target customers directly with highly relevant offers, thus encouraging brand loyalty.
Pizza Hut also provides centralised customer relationship management (CRM) and electronic CRM support to help franchisees communicate the right messages to the right consumers at an appropriate time and in the correct format. For example, customers get personalised offers via email, SMS or leaflet drops from their local store.
A Pizza Hut franchisee should have solid business and commercial sense with an entrepreneurial flair, according to Carnes, who adds: “While every franchisee is different, a Pizza Hut franchisee needs to understand their customers and competitors. Hands-on franchisees with a flair for marketing and a keen eye for the quality of their operations tend to perform the best.”
The brand also believes it is important to keep the franchisee offer flexible.
**“We like to think that we can provide a tailored support package for each individual franchisee based on their prior experience and their aspirations for their business,”** says Carnes.
**“We operate a series of boards and councils on which an elected franchise representative sits and this enables us to ensure we stay 100 per cent connected to the business and that we develop in line with what our consumers and franchisees want and expect.” **
Pizza Hut Delivery is part of Yu m Brands International, the world’s largest restaurant company.
Carnes added:“I don’t believe there is any other business in our sector where the company and its franchisees work so closely together. We believe this is a result of being part of Yum Brands, which operates around 85 per cent of all its 36,000 restaurants worldwide on a franchise basis.”
World’s largest pizza company
Fox made Pizza Hut Delivery’s plans for the future clear: **“We currently operate over 330 outlets and have a crystal clear road map to operating 730, and we intend to get there as diligently as we can with a goal of opening at least 40 units per year on average. We have an awesome pipeline of great new products collected from our businesses around the world, which will help us to keep our offering new and exciting.**
**“We have an ever increasing pool of talented and driven franchisees who I know will ensure we deliver more to the customer, resulting in us delivering our own growth ambitions.”**
Innovation is still clearly on Pizza Hut Delivery’s radar. The brand developed the iconic Stuffed Crust and recently launched the popular Crown Crust and Cheesy Bites Fondue, as well as embracing social media - the brand currently has over 615,000 Facebook fans, making it the most popular UK restaurant or delivery company on the site.
Fox adds: **Innovating our products is a huge competitor advantage and has led to our best year-on-year sales growth in recent history. We are flattered that our two main competitors have chosen to copy our Stuffed Crust Pizza, but confident that ours is the original and the best and that we will always stay one step ahead - after all, we are part of the largest pizza company in the world.” **
POWER OF THE BRAND
Akin Hunter has been a Pizza Hut franchisee for 10 years. Currently his company, Hunter UK Ltd, manages nine Pizza Hut Delivery outlets in the East London area.
### What’s great about being a Pizza Hut franchisee and why? ###
The power of the Pizza Hut brand is definitely a huge positive. Consumers are not only aware of the brand, but they trust it and understand the quality that Pizza Hut represents. Because of the respect for Pizza Hut within the marketplace, from a franchisee perspective it is a safer investment.
### Are there any opportunities working with such a big brand? ###
Because of the history of Pizza Hut, there is an assurance that the brand will still be here tomorrow. It’s been operating in the UK for over 30 years, and this provides an element of reassurance for me as a franchisee. An investor’s confidence in the brand, combined with the consumer’s understanding of what we stand for, means that there is a great opportunity to grow the business.
### How has your business developed since you started working with Pizza Hut? ###
We opened our first store in Tottenham in North East London in 2001 and have opened roughly one store per year since then. Our growth has been completely organic - we have refurbished our stores and consistently delivered great products and service, so demand has enabled our company to grow.
### What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a Pizza Hut franchisee? ###
Any potential franchisee should be prepared to work hard. I’d also say that experience is important, as you have a better idea of what to expect in the industry. It’s a demanding job, but as our success shows it is ultimately very rewarding.
### How has the market changed in the past 10 years? ###
The market has changed drastically in the past 10 years and continues to evolve. For example, VAT has affected margins and it is no longer enough to just offer a delivery service; consumers are looking for good deals and are prepared to shop around. But it’s because the industry is constantly evolving that it is so interesting.The market place is thriving and while there is increased competition, we have driven customer loyalty by continually delivering a great quality product with great service —this is ultimately what will keep customers coming back.