Pizza Hut’s Shrinking Piece of the Pie
▶ Beset by new rivals, the chain is dressing up for today’s diners ▶ It’s “kind of in the middle. The middle is a tough place to be”
For more than a half- century, Pizza Hut has been a symbol of America’s hearty appetite for the Italian staple. But these are lean times for the company’s red-roofed eateries. It’s not that demand for pizza is waning in the U.S. It’s that Pizza Hut’s slice of the pie is shrinking.
To reverse that decline, Pizza Hut, owned by Yum! Brands, is adopting a plan that borrows from the upstarts nibbling at its market share. Two restaurants in Texas are the testing ground for innovations including ovens that can deliver pies faster, and sleeker interiors with bar seating for customers to hang out while enjoying a beer.
A growing number of fast-casual restaurant chains seem to have a better line on what kind of pies Americans want and how they want them. Blaze Pizza, for one, has a customize-asyou-watch experience that today’s diners have grown accustomed to at eateries such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Five Guys Burgers & Fries. And takeout and delivery customers increasingly prefer to tap in their orders on mobile phones and send them to a Web-focused joint such as Domino’s Pizza. “Changing their positioning with consumers is going to be really tough,” says Bob Goldin, vice chairman at researcher Technomic. “Pizza Hut is just kind of in the middle.