The World's Biggest Franchisee is Taking Over Pizza Hut's Australia Business

    Flynn Restaurant Group, which owns 945 Pizza Hut units in the U.S., will soon lead an Australia market that's seen 50 straight months of positive sales. 

    Franchising | June 7, 2023 | Ben Coley
    Pizza Hut pizza on a wooden table.
    Pizza Hut
    The transaction is expected to close at the end of June.

    Flynn Restaurant Group—already the largest franchisee company in the world—is going international. 

    The organization recently agreed to take over Pizza Hut's roughly 260-unit Australia business. The operator purchased the master franchisee license from Sydney‑based private investment firm Allegro Funds.

    “This is an incredibly exciting moment for Flynn Restaurant Group,” Greg Flynn, founder, chairman, and CEO, said in a statement. “We spent our first 12 years growing in Applebee’s, and then the next 12 years diversifying as a domestic franchise operator. In this next chapter, we’re layering on international expansion, and the growth potential is essentially unlimited.”

    Under the watch of CEO Phil Reed, who's served in his position since April 2018, Pizza Hut Australia has seen 50 straight months of positive same-store sales and record revenue. Flynn Restaurant Group said it has the requisite resources, capital, and experience, to continue the momentum. 

    Flynn Restaurant Group co-COO Ron Bellamy led the acquisition and will oversee the Australia business. 

    “I’m incredibly proud of the work that’s brought us to this point and look forward to seeing Pizza Hut’s continued growth in Australia for years to come," Bellamy said in a statement. "As huge believers in the brand and its leadership team, we see this as the ideal opportunity to expand into the international arena.”

    When the transaction closes (expected by the end of June), Flynn Restaurant Group will operate more than 2,600 quick-service, fast-casual, and casual-dining restaurants, generating $4.5 billion in sales and employing more than 75,000. Flynn Restaurant Group currently operates 945 Pizza Hut stores in the U.S., most of which were bought in 2021 from bankrupt franchisee NPC International. The portfolio also features Applebee's (439 stores), Taco Bell (288 stores), Panera (128 stores), Arby's (366 stores), and Wendy's (190 stores). 

    The franchisee formed in the late 1990s when Gregg Flynn acquired eight Applebee's restaurants in the Seattle market. After growing its Applebee's footprint significantly, the company entered Taco Bell in 2012, Panera in 2014, Arby’s in 2018, and Pizza Hut and Wendy's (also part of the NPC deal) in 2021. Flynn Restaurant Group is the largest operator for Applebee’s, Arby’s, and Pizza Hut, the second-largest for Panera, the third-largest for Taco Bell, and the fifth-largest for Wendy’s. All of these restaurants cover 44 states.

    To ensure continuity in Australia, the existing management team will continue to run the business. 

    “We are thrilled to see a highly valued, capable, and committed U.S. franchise partner, Flynn Restaurant Group, expanding their relationship with Pizza Hut through the acquisition of the Master Franchisee license in Australia,” Pizza Hut Global CEO Aaron Powell said in a statement. “With the opportunity to build on an already strong foundation, I am confident that the Flynn Restaurant Group team will bring fresh ideas and capital that extend momentum and forge deeper connections with customers in this important Pizza Hut market. The move is an exciting step forward for Pizza Hut in Australia.”