Mumbai, Feb 5: Pizza Hut considers India to be one of its most important markets and plans to double its store count to over 700 in the next five years, riding the wave of growing popularity of western fast-food in the country, a senior company executive said.”In the long-term, India is one of our most important markets. In the medium term, we plan to double the number of outlets. We currently have 360 restaurants across 100 cities. We will double that to over 700 in the next five years,” Unnat Varma, Managing Director, Pizza Hut (India Subcontinent), Yum! Restaurants told PTI here.
The Yum! Restaurants-owned pizza chain runs a franchise model in the country, where investments come from franchise partners, Varma added.
“In 2014, we had ramped up aggressively and opened over 80 restaurants. Now, we are in a consolidation phase for our business. Once you had this kind of growth, you need to stabilise the business. Let’s not grow ahead of the curve,” he added.
Varma said the economy is also looking to turn around and consumer sentiment is picking up, giving confidence to the firm to gradually ramp its presence in the country.
He said that a recent study undertaken by the company showed that pizza had become the biggest food category in the country, giving impetus to the company’s growth.
“Five to six years ago, the western food format stood third in preferences after Indian and Chinese, and within that pizza was the highest. Recent studies show pizza is the biggest category, and has become the most accepted food across all consumer categories,” he said.
Speaking about a spurt in quick service restaurants in the country, he explained that pizza was a difficult category to enter as entry barriers are high and scaling up would be difficult.”While there are several new food brands that are also doing well, not all can sustain for 10-20 years. The more players the better for the category,” he said.
Pizza Hut is also focussed on growing its online sales, which has seen a rise since demonetisation in November.
“More than 35 per cent of sales comes through home delivery and has grown in the last few years.
“Two years back, we started online ordering through the website and app. Now, over 60 per cent of home deliveries happen through online as compared to call-centres earlier,” he added