Pizza Hut Returns to South Africa With Take Out Market Focus

Yum! Brands Inc.’s Pizza Hut chain is returning to South Africa after a six-year absence with a new focus on delivery meals and a plan to use the country as a platform to enter other parts of the continent.

The first new outlet in Africa’s second-biggest economy will open in Johannesburg tomorrow, Randall Blackford, general manager for Pizza Hut Africa, said by phone yesterday. Six more stores are planned for Gauteng province by the end of this year. Pizza Hut will also open outlets in Zambia and Angola by the first half of 2015, he said.

“For us not to be in Africa seemed really a shame for a global brand,” Blackford said. “As we start to look at the Africa pizza market it seemed like a really exciting market.”

International restaurant chains and other retailers are increasing their presence in Africa, which is home to the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population, according to a McKinsey & Co. report in 2010. Burger King Worldwide Inc. opened its first restaurant in South Africa last year and said it would consider outlets elsewhere on the continent, while McDonald’s Corp. said in February it’s looking at new African markets.

About 34.8 million South Africans will be buying meals from fast-food restaurants by 2017, up from 31 million now, according to the Consumer Landscape Survey. The country’s population is about 53 million.

When Pizza Hut last had a presence in South Africa in 2008 it was geared toward customers who sat and ate in its restaurants. This time the company sees its biggest opportunity in a delivery and take-away offering, Blackford said. Pizza toppings aimed at South Africans will include the boerewors beef sausage and spicy peri-peri chicken, both local favorites.

Yum Brands, which also owns fried-chicken chain KFC, will use “the huge infrastructure that was built,” to operate its 750 South African KFC outlets to expand Pizza Hut, Blackford said. Yum shares were 0.3 percent higher at $72.20 as of 12.26 p.m. in New York, valuing the Louisville, Kentucky-based company at $31.74 billion.

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