Editor's note: The following information is part of a countdown recap from the inaugural Top 100 Movers and Shakers publication. It was published in the spring of 2012. Some of the information may now be different.
You know you're a pretty big deal when you're the most Googled restaurant brand of 2011 – globally. Such is the case for Pizza Hut, which has been around since 1958 but continues to grow, innovate and execute as though an ambitious newcomer.
Pizza Hut generated nearly $2 billion more than its nearest domestic competitor in 2011 — $5.4 billion compared to $3.4 billion for Domino's. The company, part of Yum! Brands, isn't afraid to push the envelope with its menu innovations, as evidenced by its signature Stuffed Crust and P'Zone offerings, as well as its Big Dinner Box and Cheesy Bites crust.
Pizza Hut also claims to be the first pizza chain to launch the iPhone ordering app, which it did in 2009. The service generated more than $1 million in sales within its first three months. It added an iPad and Android app last year.
But the chain's big success story as of late has been with its international portfolio. Based on financial performance and brand strength, Pizza Hut was listed as No. 81 on Interbrand's top 100 global brands of 2011.
The company plans to double its Quebec presence to 80 units in the next two to five years. Its parent company recently created a separate India division for the staggering growth in that market. And, in China, Pizza Hut is a top casual dining brand, with 662 restaurants open across multiple-tiered cities. Pizza Hut – along with sister brand KFC – helped drive Yum! Brands' 14 percent operating profit in China in the first quarter of this year.
"The (Pizza Hut) brand is a leader in China. The team is fully embracing that we want to be the casual dining chain in China," said David C. Novak, CEO of parent company Yum! Brands, in an earnings call.
Overseas, Pizza Hut has not only been growing, but also innovating its food. The Australian system just introduced a new Signature Range menu, which includes 13 new pizzas that will be permanent additions. Pizza Hut UK is currently featuring hot dog stuffed crust pizza, complete with a free mustard drizzle, and in the Middle East, the chain is selling pizzas with cheeseburger-stuffed crusts.
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