Pizza Hut’s deal with Ali Group supplier unlocks hidden sales potential

10 July 2017.
The new Pizza Hut restaurant at White Rose Centre, Leeds.

Pizza Hut has begun rolling out Rancilio coffee machines across its estate, including 50 restaurants to date, as it lays down the foundations to support what is a growing part of its overall offer.

Significant investment has been poured into bringing the chain’s restaurants up to modern standards and although Pizza Hut has only opened one new store in the last six years, it has refurbished nearly 90% of its 266-strong estate over the same period.

Wayne Penfold, procurement manager at Pizza Hut, is responsible for introducing new equipment to the company and since joining the business two years ago he has identified the need to develop a high-quality coffee menu.

His desire to improve the consistency of Pizza Hut’s offer and source equipment that is straightforward for staff to operate led him to Rancilio.

“The machines are very well made, easy to use and the specification we went for focused on ease of operation, delivering a good cup of coffee and one that is going to be future proof,” he told the latest edition of Aliworld, the internal publication of the Ali Group, which owns Rancilio. “When we start driving more coffee sales for our restaurants we won’t be worried about the machines’ ability to keep up with that demand.”

Pizza Hut, which made sales of £233m last year, was introduced to the Rancilio range last year through ethical coffee company Cafeology, a UK agent for the brand.

“Coffee continues to grow in the UK and the secondary market place – restaurants rather than coffee shops – is probably the biggest area of growth so having the credible quality and consistent offer is important to us,” adds Penfold.

With competition in the coffee machine market increasing, Rancilio itself has stepped up its R&D investment to stay ahead of the pack.

It claims its Xcelsius system gives baristas a “new kind of control” over espresso temperatures, while a patented automatic steam wand allows operators to easily heat and froth milk using a mix of steam and air.

Due to relatively low demand for coffee at this stage, Pizza Hut has opted for a pod concept rather than using coffee beans and Rancilio has adapted the handles in order to accommodate the pods.

Depending on the needs of the different locations, the manufacturer is able to supply the most appropriate product, including Classe 9 machines for larger Pizza Hut stores and taller versions of its Classe 7 models for takeaway cups.

Additionally, Rancilio has started adapting an existing model to meet the specific requirements of smaller Pizza Hut restaurants. Its Classe 5 compact machines now include a special steam function, giving amended functionality to those stores.

“This is a smaller machine so it fits a smaller footprint,” explains Penfold. “A smaller boiler also means lower energy usage. It means it will be a better fit for some of our smaller restaurants where we don’t have the need for quite so much capacity.”

Cafeology will continue to oversee all installations and servicing of machines supplied to Pizza Hut.

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