Establishing the fast food trend in Oman, and introducing a 'Pizza Frenzy', Pizza Hut, the international fast-food giant, has come a long way. This year marks 25 years of its presence in Oman which has been heralded with a Pizza Carnival.
It started as a small affair, and at a time when nothing seemed to be in its favour. There weren't many takers for what it had to offer; neither did it seem belonging to the place. That was way back in 1988, when Pizza Hut, the restaurant chain from US, was brought into the Sultanate by 'Khimji International LLC', in a small set up at Al-Qurum.
Twenty-five years on, the venture has evolved into the biggest fast-food chain spreading its flavour all over the country, with more than 32 outlets and 350 plus employees. Hailed as the trend-setter of fast food in Oman, it was 'Pizza-Hut', which introduced the locals to the-very popular around the world-Italian dish 'Pizza'!
According to Yogesh Shah, General Manger, Restaurant Division, Khimji International LLC, it was very difficult doing business in the early years, as the entire concept of fast-food was "alien" to the country with only two other joints operating at the time (Kentucky Fried Chicken and Texas Fried Chicken). "We literally inculcated the taste of Pizza amongst the Omani people, leading them to explore the delicacy by giving free trials and promotional discounts. Things worked out for us and gradually the people started to find Pizzas immensely to their liking. Today more than 70 percent of our customers are Omanis, and pizza is more of a part of their staple diet", said Shah, who has been associated with the restaurant since its inception.
Going by its motto, 'Pizza and Much Much More', being at Pizza Hut is much more than just dining. "It is a wholesome experience of being content and having a happy time with your near and dear ones", said Shah. Exclusivity is a main feature of the joint. Offering customised options for every age group, the eclectic menu has more than 72 dishes, including salads, starters, pastas, flatbreads, and deserts along-with the quintessential pizzas.
Having won many excellence awards including the 'Oman Excellence Award' (2009), and the 'Best Restaurant Award' (5 times), the chain today has a footfall of more than a hundred thousand customers a week, and sells more than 3 million pizzas a year. Broadening its operations to cater to the ever increasing demand, Pizza Hut has split its outlets into several different formats; the original family-style dine-in locations, store front delivery and carry-out locations. The channelising is aimed at smooth and fast order deliveries and increased overall customer satisfaction. Out of the 32 outlets, 12 cater only to the home delivery and take away orders.
Pizza Hut's carryout business has roughly doubled in recent years, to about 30 percent of sales, according to Winston Reddy, Head of Operations, Pizza Hut Oman. He informed that the take-away outlets are located at Grade-A locations, with vehicle and foot traffic convenience, making it more comfortable for the customers to stop by and pick up their dinner, rather than dialing the store once they get home. Pizza Hut also boasts of being the first restaurant chain in the country to have online ordering facility with more than 90 thousand registered customers.
The chain has adopted strong and unique strategies to maintain its leading position in the market. To maintain highest standards on all round parameters, the chain has implemented initiatives like 'CHAMPS', a competitive rating system, across its branches, which focuses on the assessment of six core areas of service – Cleanliness, Hospitality, Accuracy, Maintenance of Assets, Product Quality, and Speed of service. The outlet with maximum ratings is rewarded accordingly, and sent to Dubai to participate in the final round.
Shah said implementing such initiatives kept the staff motivated