Pizza Hut has opened its first location in Iraq, in the Majidi Mall in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region.
The 120-seat dine-in restaurant, operated by franchise partner Al Kout Food Company, is the first of five Pizza Huts planned to open in Erbil this year. Al Kout also plans to open a Pizza Hut in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, the second-largest city in Kurdistan.
“We’re pleased to be able to bring Pizza Hut to Iraq as part of the explosive growth for our brand around the world,” Scott Bergren, chief executive of Pizza Hut, said in a statement. “While Pizza Hut’s footprint is already significantly larger than our nearest competitor, we’ve still just scratched the surface of global growth.”
Pizza Hut’s parent company, Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands Inc., said it and its franchisee partners plan to invest $10 billion and have more than 20,000 restaurants in emerging markets like Iraq, Russia or Africa by 2020.
In Yum’s most recently completed fiscal year, two-thirds of the 1,055 new restaurants that opened in 78 countries outside the United States, China and India were in what the company classifies as emerging markets. Those emerging markets produced full-year unit growth of 7 percent and same-store sales growth of 4 percent, compared with 1-percent unit growth and flat same-store sales for developed markets.
Al Kout Food Company is based in Iraq and is a subsidiary of Kuwait-based Kout Food Group, which also franchises Pizza Hut’s sibling brands Taco Bell and KFC, as well as Burger King and Applebee’s, in Kuwait.
Plano, Texas-based Pizza Hut has nearly 15,000 locations worldwide, including more than 6,200 units in the United States and 1,100 restaurants in China.
Yum operates or franchises more than 40,000 restaurants in more than 125 countries.