Hat-trick of annual losses for Pizza Hut in the UK

Pizza Hut UK suffered hefty losses for the third consecutive year in 2009, as it continued to struggle in the face of fierce competition.

The 710-restaurant chain, which is part of the US group Yum Brands which also owns the KFC fast-food business, blamed tough trading conditions resulting from declining consumer confidence.

Pizza Hut posted pre-tax losses of £12.12m for the 52 weeks to 29 November 2009, a slight improvement on the £13.31m loss the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House this week. Its last UK profit of £6.88m came in 2006.

The loss reinforces the view that Pizza Hut has failed to keep up with the dining-out aspirations of British people in the way its more upmarket rival, Pizza Express, has. The woes at Pizza Hut also come at a time when the pizza delivery specialist Domino's is booming. Steve Gotham, the project director at Allegra Strategies, said: "It [Pizza Hut] is a slightly tired brand. Pizza Express and a number of other pasta chains, such as Prezzo and Bella Italia, have been a bit more aspirational and innovative in terms of new products on the menu and their interiors."

Pizza Hut, which has around 200 restaurants operated by franchisees, hopes that its strategy of expanding in the UK and Ireland and investing in new products, advertising and refurbishments, will result in an improved performance this year.

A spokeswoman said: "Pizza Hut UK is investing in the business and continues to focus on providing the best-possible experience for customers through store remodels, menu innovation and expansion of its delivery service."

The chain temporarily rebranded 20 outlets to Pasta Hut in 2008 to highlight its changed menu.

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