Pizza Hut has been sold to its existing management team led by UK CEO Jens Hofma.
The high street chain was formerly owned by private equity firm Rutland Partners, which said the disposal concludes an “extremely successful investment” for its business.
Rutland acquired Pizza Hut Restaurants UK, excluding the delivery business, in November 2012 from global franchisor, Yum! Brands.
Following a long period of decline, it had become loss making and the acquisition represented a complicated carve-out from the US franchisor and its UK parent, which required significant effort and creativity to negotiate a franchise relationship that worked for a private equity structure and a platform for investing in a fundamental reinvigoration of the business including a transition from a sales to profit focus.
Since acquisition there has been a complete overhaul of the offering. The 260-site restaurant estate has undergone a dramatic £60m American inspired re-imaging with positive returns. Almost all of the estate has been reimaged and the menu has been broadened to achieve a significant uplift in guest satisfaction and a reappraisal by the market.
In addition, site training and operating programmes have been established to embed a continuous improvement culture and growth mindset in the restaurants. This radical transformation has resulted in a reversal of customer spending back into consistent sales growth and increased EBITDA by in excess of £17m since acquisition.
Post-completion of the sale, Pizza Hut Restaurants will be owned and run by its current management team with financial support from Pricoa Capital Group. As part of the financing, management will become majority shareholders and Rutland will retain an investment.
Jens Hofma, CEO of Pizza Hut, said the company’s focus over the past five years has been on its three “most important” assets: its people, restaurants and menu. “Our investment and strategy in those areas has helped us to revitalise our estate and cement our status in the UK’s fast-casual dining market,” he said.
Mr Hofma continued: “As we take control of the next stage, our mission remains unchanged: to be the most-loved place to eat and work, and I’m delighted with the funding and backing Pricoa Capital Group is providing to allow that to be possible and for the partnership we continue to enjoy with the wider Yum! business. We have only got to where we are today because of the great team of people that work for us and with us. Across our estate the passion and dedication of our team members is phenomenal and they will continue to remain at the heart of our business strategy as we move forwards.”