Pizza Hut’s UK business could fetch up to £150m after reportedly being put up for sale by its owners.
The British division of the chain is owned by investment firm Rutland Partners, which has instructed advisers at PwC to find a suitor, according to City reports.
Speculation has been mounting for some time that Rutland, which runs the restaurants under franchise from US firm Yum!, might be looking to realise its four-year investment in the business after helping to turn it around.
Pizza Hut operates around 300 stores in the UK at present, but in a newspaper interview last year CEO Jens Hofma made it clear that 2016 would herald a return to new openings, with four or five launches annually from there on in.
“It depends a bit on site availability, which is a clear issue in the hospitality sector in the UK at the moment,” he said. “Everyone wants to expand and there is a limited number of great sites available.”
Rutland recently announced that Pizza Hut sales rose 6% in 2015 following nine quarters of consecutive growth. It said that a focus on an aggressive refurbishment and restructuring programme had helped drive what it called a “successful year” for the business.
Hofma said: “We’ve seen a mix of new customers and increased spend per head at our restaurants, with each refurbished Hut experiencing significant sales uplift. The next year will be hugely important and I believe there has never been a more exciting time in the business. We are already in a good place but we have a huge remaining growth opportunity, particularly as we continue to unlock the potential of our people, new technologies, new audiences, such as millennials, and further innovations in the menu.”
Pizza Hut overhauled 71 restaurants last year, with each refurbished site experiencing a sales uplift between 10% and 40% depending on the level of investment.
Half of the portfolio is now complete and throughout next year a further 70 restaurants are due to be refurbished providing further growth potential for the business, it said.