The chain is the only pizza provider in the U.S. offering beer delivery. But how far can alcohol really take it?
— Danni Santana
Pizza Hut is doubling down on its off-premise sales strategy by expanding its beer delivery service in hopes of dethroning Domino’s as pizza delivery king.
The No. 2 pizza chain by net sales disclosed Monday it would expand its beer delivery program to 1,000 restaurants by the summer. But in the short term, Pizza Hut also intends to offer the service to customers in about 300 of its locations across the Midwest and Southeast in time for the Super Bowl next month.
As the sole pizza chain provider of beer, the company is betting the event will offer a much-needed bump in sales, following a 1 percent dip last quarter. Pizza Hut took over as the National Football League’s official pizza sponsor last February, replacing rival Papa John’s.
“We see a lot of potential with this new offering and will continue to evaluate it,” a Pizza Hut spokesperson said. “The success we’ve seen so far has been a major driver into the expansion and push for 1,000 stores by this summer.”
The chain tried a similar marketing ploy with the NCAA to appeal to Gen Z college students last year. From these early tests, Pizza Hut said it confirmed there is “a strong desire for ice-cold beer with oven-hot pizza.”
Return to the Throne
Pizza Hut is a company eager to take back its No. 1 mantle, which it lost to Domino’s at the end of 2017 based on year-end store sales. Like its rivals, including Papa John’s and Little Ceaser’s, the chain relies heavily on marketing new value deals and menu offerings to woo customers.
However, the chain has somewhat failed to advertise its own progression as a company on delivery, Artie Starrs, president of Pizza Hut U.S, said last month. Many customers aren’t aware Pizza Hut delivers from 6,000 of its 7,500 locations in the U.S., he said.
Beer delivery is now becoming a bigger part of that business segment. The company is also steadily increasing its Delco store presence in the U.S., aimed at improving off-premise sales. The 70 Delco stores opened to date have seen a 30 percent boost in sales.
“We’re committed to improving the modern pizza experience – and beer delivery falls into this category,” the company said. “Our intent now is to make it as seamless as possible to as many customers as possible, and that will be a win for us.”