Casual dining chain Pizza Hut could fall into new hands later this year following reports that its current private equity owner will soon look to realise its investment in the business.
Rutland Partners purchased the UK restaurant franchise from Yum! Brands three years ago and subsequently embarked on a £60m refurbishment programme aimed at returning it to profitability.
With the chain’s financial performance now back on track, Rutland is said to be willing to offload the operation if it receives the right offer.
Jens Hofma, the boss of Pizza Hut, acknowledged that Rutland typically holds onto its investments for between three and five years.
“We’re approaching our three-year anniversary in November so they will start evaluating options, in terms of what sort of exit they will potentially contemplate,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “While discussions about a sale are always ongoing, those talks will intensify in coming months.”
Hofma believes there will be “quite a few” interested parties, including other private equity firms or overseas trade buyers. He refused to rule out a stock market floatation either.
Profits at the chain rose to £3.3m last year, almost double the £1.7m that it made two years ago.
The paper said that Pizza Hut has now recorded two straight years of after-tax profits and, after closing a host of underperforming sites, is preparing to open its first new locations since 2011.
Pizza Hut currently has 280 restaurants and aims to open between four and five sites annually from next year.
“It depends a bit on site availability, which is a clear issue in the hospitality sector in the UK at the moment,” said Hofma. “Everyone wants to expand and there is a limited number of great sites available.”