• Positive Pizza Hut sales drive Q4 sales at Restaurant Brands

AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- Strong sales at Pizza Hut stores in Australia and New Zealand helped fast-food franchisee Restaurant Brands achieve a 8.6 percent sales increase in its fourth quarter, ended Feb. 24.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the company posted $68.6 million (U.S. $38.5 million) in sales for the period, up from $63.2 million the year before.

Total Pizza Hut sales at its stores in New Zealand and Australia for the period were NZ $23.9 million (U.S. $13.4 million). The company also franchises KFC and Starbucks brands.

In a release, chief executive Jim Collier said Pizza Hut sales in New Zealand rose 6.3 percent to $17.3 million (U.S. $9.7 million), with same-store sales up 5.8 percent.

"Pizza Hut continues to benefit from the expansion into home delivery and takeaway and has recorded 11 straight quarters of sales growth," he said. "The brand has maintained good momentum for three years and we expect that growth to continue," he said.

In Australia, the company's recently acquired Pizza Hut operations in Victoria continued to improve. Same-store sales were down an estimated 5 percent for the period, compared to a 14 percent decline for the previous two quarters. (See "New Zealand, Australian Pizza Huts post mixed 3Q results.")

Shares in Restaurant Brands -- which have fallen 18 percent over the last month on concerns about increased domestic competition from Domino's -- slipped $1.27 (U.S. 71 cents) following the announcement. (See "Restaurant Brands' stock slide blamed on Domino's Pizza's arrival.")

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