It has been announced that around 300 Pizza Hut restaurants, Mostly Dine-In Locations, will be closing. According to CNN, NPC International — one of the largest franchisees of the pizza chain — has filed Chapter 11, and made a deal with Pizza Hut's owner, Yum! Brands, to shut down a number of locations. The outlet notes that no specific timeline or store identification has been hammered out, but it will be a "substantial majority" of the dine-locations that are in jeopardy of being closed.
In a press release, it was explained that the agreement between YUM and NPC provides the latter with "flexibility to explore options for achieving a value maximizing outcome as it seeks to finalize the terms of a comprehensive financial restructuring and emerge from Chapter 11." CNN reported that NPC's bankruptcy was brought on by "a perfect storm" of shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, and rising labor and food costs and debts reaching nearly $1 billion. NPC has more than 1,200 Pizza Hut locations. This makes up 18 percent of the chain's 6,700 locations in the United States. Notably, NPC's remaining portfolio assets includes 6,500 Wendy's restaurants, also in the U.S.
For its part, Pizza Hut has also commented, explaining that the stores which will be closed "significantly underperform" in comparison to the others owned by NPC. CNN cites Pizza Hut already having shifted away from the dine-in model as evidence for why this is not more concerning. "We have continued to work with NPC and its lenders to optimize NPC's Pizza Hut restaurant footprint and strengthen the portfolio for the future," Pizza Hut said in a statement. "Today's joint agreement to close up to 300 NPC Pizza Hut restaurants is an important step toward a healthier business," it added.
Pizza Hut is just one of many big U.S. business that have been impacted by shutdowns since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In July, it was revealed that Dunkin' had plans to shut down 450 locations. "Very few of the approximately 450 Speedway-owned and operated limited menu Dunkin' locations have closed to date, and we remain on track to exit Speedway by the end of 2020," said Michelle King, a Dunkin' brand spokeswoman. "By exiting these sites, we are confident we will be better positioned to serve these trade areas with Dunkin's newest Next Generation restaurant design that offers a broader menu and modern experience," she later added.