Pizza Hut calibrates future plans, expansion to continue

Undeterred by Covid-19’s economic impact, QSR major Pizza Hut India will continue to focus on expanding its presence, especially in the Tier-I cities.

In a conversation with IANS, Pizza Hut India MD Merrill Pereyra elaborated that despite the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact, the brand will move forward with its expansion plans.

“Covid-19 has disrupted the best laid plans for everyone,” he told IANS.

“We are currently calibrating our plans for next year, but our focus will be on delivery segment and expansion in tier I cities.”

According to Pereyra, the company has witnessed a consistent build-up in off -take that counters the theory of pent-up demand driving sales.

“Other than the few initial days of lockdown when majority of stores were shut, we have not seen any dip in demand from tier I cities, which is w here most of our presence is,” he said.

At present, Pizza Hut has 431 stores in India, with a ratio of 58:42 in tier I versus tier II cities.

Besides, he cited that significant uptake in sales has been witnessed across channels.

“In fact, on the delivery front, we have already reached pre-Covid levels and more than 63 per cent of our business is coming from the delivery channel currently,” Pereyra revealed.

“We have also seen a substantial increase in cheque sizes on delivery orders, especially on orders meant for groups of people living together.”

The company’s delivery business contributed around 35 per cent of re venue in 2019, which has risen to 63 per cent currently.

Similarly, the company’s ‘takeaway’ segment has also witnessed growth.

The segment is currently clocking “even higher numbers than last year, leave alone pre-Covid”.

“This is due to our focus on ensuring that our takeaway process is very fast, efficient & safe, making it a preferred choice for customers while transiting,” he explained.

“This success in takeaway has prompted us to enhance our service off ering and introduce on-the-go takeaway, wherein the store staff delivers the food straight to the customer’s vehicle parked outside the store, so that they don’t need to enter the store.”

However, Covid’s impact was witnessed in the ‘Dine-in’ segment. Nevertheless, the company has reported a pick-up in business.

Recently, the company upgraded all its digital assets including the website, m-site and mobile app.

It plans to continue investing in digital assets.

“Sales via our App has grown at 50-60 per cent versus the pre-Covid period. M-Site sales have also grown significantly at 30 per cent while Desktop remains stable. This growth has been achieved despite only 85-90 per cent delivery stores being operational, so the growth would be far higher once 100 per cent stores are operational,” he said.

“Digital transactions are playing a key role in this new normal and h ence we are ensuring our digital capabilities and platforms are geared to handle the increased scope. We are also using several location data and geofencing tools to enable us to increase our delivery efficiencies.”

The company, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. was founded in 1958.

It entered India over two decades ago with a restaurant in Bangalore.

The QSR major operates more than 18,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries.