Pizza Hut finally has a turnaround recipe – with a little help from Domino’s
When Devyani International released its results for the three months ended December last week, one statistic stood out.
The largest franchisee of fast food giant Yum! Brands said it added nearly 100 Pizza Hut outlets between April and December. That brought its total number of stores to nearly 400, a goal analysts had expected Devyani to take another three months to achieve.
This kind of rampant growth is unusual for Pizza Hut, which saw a net addition of just 25 stores in the two years before the pandemic. It has, in the past, tried and failed to compete with its biggest rival Domino’s Pizza. The two global pizza chains entered India in 1996, but the number of Domino’s stores is 2.5 times that of Pizza Hut. And in terms of revenue, Domino’s is 5 times bigger.
For many Indians, pizza is simply Domino’s.
But there are signs that Pizza Hut could change that. And what better way to do that than by borrowing from its rival’s playbook – stick to smaller stores and focus on delivery. The strategy, which began to take shape three-four years ago, was only turbocharged by Covid.
“Pizza Hut is basically no longer a restaurant,” Devyani Chairman Ravi Jaipuria said on a call with analysts following recent quarterly results. “It’s a delivery store, but if someone wants to eat there, we just give them the box.” No cutlery, sorry.
Outlets that could accommodate around 120 diners before the pandemic, Devyani is now content with stores with a capacity of only 40 places. It’s a sea change for a brand whose spacious restaurants served as a counterpoint to the cramped retail outlets that characterized Domino’s.
This shift is starting to show up in Devyani’s numbers. Even as it continues an expansion spree, its average daily sales (ADS) per store rose, up 18% year-on-year to 47,000 rupees ($630) in the quarter ended December. “For a store to reach an ADS of Rs 45,000 ($600), it would take 18-24 months (from launch) earlier. Now it happens in 12 months,” says Nihal Jham, analyst at Edelweiss Securities.
But there are still plenty of things that could still hold Pizza Hut back. On the one hand, while Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd is the only Domino’s franchisee in India, Devyani has to share the rights to Pizza Hut and KFC, also Yum! Stable brands—with Sapphire Foods.
And Domino’s doesn’t have a team in India, unlike Yum!, which gives Jubilant carte blanche. “Domino’s is not an operating entity. It’s just Jubilant,” says a senior Yum! executive. “But Yum!, Devyani, and Sapphire should all line up on Pizza Hut.” The senior executive and a few others The Ken spoken on request anonymity.
More importantly, Domino’s gets
more than half
more than half
How Domino challenged the power of Zomato and Swiggy
its business from its own app and website, while Pizza Hut only generates 10-20% of its orders online, according to an analyst at a national brokerage.