Another new-old fast food player: Pizza Hut to return to SA

The Pizza Hut fast food chain is returning to South Africa after an absence of six years, but this time it will have a different focus.

The pizza maker, which is one of the restaurant chain stores owned by US-based Yum! Brands, said that it plans to use South Africa as a base to move into the rest of Africa.

The first new restaurant will be opened in Johannesburg this week with plans for six more restaurants to be opened in Gauteng by the end of the year. Pizza Hut also plans to open restaurants in Zambia and Angola in the first half of 2015.

Randall Blackford, general manager for Pizza Hut Africa, says 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.

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.

Burger King opened its first restaurant in South Africa last year and said it would consider outlets elsewhere on the continent, while McDonald’s said in February it’s looking at new African markets. In April, Taste Holdings announced a 30-year master licence agreement to develop the international Domino’s Pizza delivery brand in southern Africa.

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.