NZ firm buys Pizza Hut franchise

Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd. has acquired the lone Pizza Hut franchise on Saipan following a multimillion-dollar deal with Pacific Island Restaurants Inc., the largest fast-food operator in Hawaii. The 100-percent acquisition was reported on RBNZ’s website last month.

PIR owns the rights to the Pizza Hut franchise on Saipan and operates several branches of the world-renowned fast-food restaurant and Taco Bell in Hawaii and Guam. They have a total of 37 Taco Bell and 45 Pizza Hut stores spread out in Hawaii and Guam.

RBNZ finance secretary Kaye Martin, in an email to Saipan Tribune, said the deal was sealed last Oct. 26, with the Auckland-based company purchasing 100 percent of PIR’s shares for $105 million. RBNZ would take over the company next month.

Martin assured that RBNZ would be retaining the same team that has served local and foreign customers for more than 10 years now.

RBNZ, established in 1989, also owns the rights to popular restaurant brands Carl’s Jr., KFC, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks in New Zealand where they operate a combined number of more than 120 stores. They first acquired KFC in 1989 then KFC in 1995, before securing the Starbucks franchise in 1998 and brought Carl’s Jr. to their fold in 2011.

RBNZ chair Ted van Arkel, in a statement, said that both Pizza Hut and Taco Bell have established themselves as leaders in the pizza and Mexican fast-food restaurant service. Their acquisition will also give them some traction in Hawaii, Guam, and on Saipan as they again try to expand outside of New Zealand. Their first attempt on expansion was in 2002 after acquiring 52 Pizza Hut stores in Victoria, New Zealand but they folded operations after only six years.

RBNZ was listed in 1997 on the New Zealand Stock Exchange with an offer price of NZ$2.20. Its shares jumped 9.8 percent after news of its purchase of QSR Pty Ltd, the largest KFC franchiser in New South Wales, broke out early this year.

Martin said they hope to cash on Saipan’s renewed economic growth that is boosted by an increase in tourist arrivals. They are also looking into and would explore the possibility of bringing in the restaurant franchises that they hold the rights to.

“There are no immediate plans to do so yet, but definitely looking to reinvest in the business as a whole,” added Martin.

Van Arkel said in a statement that they are excited with the deal as they hope to further gain exposure from PIR’s brands, including Taco Bell, that has gained worldwide appeal.

“We have nearly 20 years’ experience successfully operating the Pizza Hut brand in New Zealand and will look to leverage this experience to drive the Hawaiian franchise’s continued performance,” he said.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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