Pizza Hut's largest franchisee, NPC International, reported Q4 and fiscal results today, including a 5.2 percent drop in comp sales in Q4, and a 3.7 percent decline for fiscal 2013.
In a company news release, NPC's president and CEO Jim Schwartz said, "The brand is struggling to find a functionally relevant consumer proposition and emotional connection during a time when the consumer remains monetarily sensitive and the category is hyper-competitive."
Elevated cheese prices are adding significant pressure on margins, he added.
"We continue to work with the leadership team at Pizza Hut to address our challenges in the marketplace and we are collectively evaluating all aspects of our brand including brand relevance, positioning and value. We intend to meet the challenge; however, it is clear that there is much hard work to be done to re-establish our category relevance and leadership and regain our sales momentum in the marketplace," Schwartz said.