Clearwater International UK advises Pizza Hut Restaurants UK on management buy-out

Pizza Hut Restaurants UK has announced that its senior leadership team has completed a management buy-out of the restaurant chain in the UK from its private equity backer Rutland Partners.

Assisted through funding from Pricoa Capital Group, the international private capital investment arm of PGIM, the MBO will see the management team, led by CEO Jens Hofma, take control of the business with a new franchise agreement in place with Pizza Hut’s brand owner, Yum! Brands.

Over the past five years, the management team has led Pizza Hut Restaurants through a significant turnaround programme, which has resulted in a reversal of customer spending back into consistent sales growth and increased EBITDA by in excess of £17m (€19.4m).

Following Rutland Partners’ acquisition of the business in 2012, over £60m (€68.5m) has been re-invested in the turnaround strategy, which has involved the complete redesign of the restaurant estate and the relaunch of the menu. Underpinning the business strategy is a new service model which keeps people at the heart of the business, with a market-leading training programme developed to ensure restaurant teams are not only operationally excellent but deliver genuine customer experiences.

With the refurbishment programme now nearly complete, the new ownership structure will aim to build on the current success and drive further growth in the UK market, including potential new restaurant openings where the right opportunities are available.

The Clearwater International team comprised of Partner and Head of Consumer Gareth Iley, and Director Helen Lowe, with support from Clearwater’s Debt Advisory team – Partner Chris Smith and Director Lachlan Dorrity.

“Five years ago, we began an incredible journey and we’re now experiencing the true extent of the positive impact Rutland Partners’ investment and guidance has made to the business.

“Our focus has been on our three most important assets: our people, our Huts and our menu. Our investment and strategy in those areas has helped us to revitalise our estate and cement our status in the UK’s fast-casual dining market.

“As we take control of the next stage, our mission remains unchanged: to be the most loved place to eat and work, and I’m delighted with the funding and backing Pricoa is providing to allow that to be possible and for the partnership we continue to enjoy with the wider Yum! Business. We have only got to where we are today because of the great team of people that work for us and with us. Across our estate the passion and dedication of our team members is phenomenal and they will continue to remain vital to our business strategy as we move forwards.”

Jens Hofma, CEO Pizza Hut Restaurants UK

“Pizza Hut is one of the most recognisable and accessible brands in UK casual dining and Jens and his team have done an exceptional job in re-establishing the UK business as a market leader in terms of both customer satisfaction as well as trading performance. Clearwater International is pleased to have assisted the team in securing a new funding provider to support the business in its next stage of growth, as well as putting long-term control back into the hands of the team driving the strategy.”

Gareth Iley, Partner, Clearwater International