SEOUL -- In Korea's not-so-distant past, pizza was considered by many to be "fast food."
But according to a report in the Korea Herald, Pizza Hut operators there have raised service standards successfully and are reaping strong business as a result.
"Korean diners have become much more sophisticated in the last few years, and now they expect better quality and service everywhere -- even at the most casual of pizza eateries," said Pizza Hut Korea president Cho In-soo, during a Nov. 21 press conference. "Add to this structural changes (in society) like the newly implemented five-day workweek, which provides for more family time, and it's obvious that restaurants have to transform in order to remain competitive."
In its dine-in operations, which account for 40 percent of the company's overall sales, Cho said Pizza Hut Korea has encouraged its staff to personalize service. It's also upgrading restaurant décor systemwide.
In delivery, which accounts for 60 percent of sales, it's working on speed and efficiency.
At no time, Cho stressed, will Pizza Hut Korea enter into price wars with competitors.
Last year Pizza Hut Korea's 300 restaurants grossed 300 billion won (U.S. $247 million). It wants to grow that number to 350 sites and 350 billion won (U.S. $288 million) in sales in 2003. To help achieve that, the company expects to spend 7 billion won (U.S. $5.7 million) on advertising in 2003.
"Given our phenomenal rate of growth, our headquarters office already recognizes very well the importance of the Korean market," Cho said. "Currently, Korea is competing fiercely with China and the United Kingdom to rank as the top market in the world -- after the United States."