Rutland Partners, the private equity firm, has recently acquired the restaurant arm of the Pizza Hut business within the UK. It will be investing £60m towards the company's refurbishment of the restaurant estate and an organisational restructure.
Rutland's announcement that it had acquired the leading share holding of Pizza Hut's UK business came as part of a franchise arrangement with Yum Brands, Pizza Hut's US owner, which also owns Taco Bell and KFC.
The delivery business in Britain will continue to be owned by Yum Brands. Rutland has announced that it has every confidence in the team that has been in charge at Pizza Hut for the last few years and that it plans to retain the existing management structure at the restaurant franchise and the current Managing Director, Jens Hofma.
Mr Hofma has been become known for having a hands-on attitude at Pizza Hut since he joined the brand in 2009. He is famous for pitching in and regularly joining the waiting staff to serve food at the Oxford Street branch. Mr Hofma shared Rutland's enthusiasm for the new deal, announcing that he was 'truly delighted' that new investment had been secured for the Pizza Hut UK restaurant business.
He added that Rutland Partners had demonstrated real enthusiasm and drive during the sale process which matched his leadership team's appetite for transforming the business.
A business-improvement strategy has been in development at Pizza Hut during the past two years and the Pizza Hut board decided to look for external funding from a strong and experienced investor with a passion for the business.
Nick Morrill, Rutland's Managing Partner, said that the firm had been 'very impressed' with the capability and energy of the Pizza Hut team across all staff levels within the business. He added that Rutland was very much looking forward to helping the management team to bring the turnaround plan to its completion. He expressed his excitement about the appeal of Pizza Hut and mentioned its position as the UK's leading brand for casual dining.
The Managing Director of Yum Brands, Mark Fox, said that Yum had been greatly impressed by Rutland Partners' enthusiasm for the investment proposition and its confidence in the management team's capability to transform the business. He said that the positive momentum that had been witnessed during the investment process had given all involved 'renewed confidence' in their strategy, which involves putting the restaurants' guests at the centre of all Pizza Hut's operation and experience.
He added too that he was looking forward to the expertise that Rutland would bring to help Pizza Hut's management team to further develop the customer experience and successfully transform the business.
Certainly at Franchise Expo, we're very interested in this announcement. It shows a great synergy between the existing management structure and the new investor. Their cooperative approach and renewed enthusiasm should give Pizza Hut's UK restaurant business the support it needs to continue with its 'guest experience' business model and help to revive its fortunes.