Pizza Hut pushes rivals to level up: CEO of UFG

Heng Sengly, CEO of United Food Group Co Ltd (UFG), the operator of the American Pizza Hut franchise in Cambodia. Photo provided

The prevalence of daily fast food consumption and the growing demand for convenient meals has become a major and unavoidable trend in the modernization of living conditions in the Kingdom.

The Cambodian pizza market has seen explosive growth in recent years, generating no less than $ 100 million in revenue in 2019 and is expected to grow 15-20% annually, according to projections by local food chain company United Food Group Co Ltd (UFG), the operator of the American Pizza Hut franchise in Cambodia.

Meanwhile, new franchises are entering the market as existing chains roll out expansions. The first branch of Pizza Hut opened in August with great fanfare in the town of Tuol Tompoung I, in the capital.

UFG has its work cut out for it to cope with the rise of profitable competitors, including The Pizza Company, based in Bangkok, a major player whose founding company Minor Group was the Thai franchisee Pizza Hut from 1980 to 2000.

La Poste’s business editor Mai Kunmakara met the CEO of UFG group Heng Sengly, to discuss the brand’s journey in the Kingdom and the company’s strategies to gain a greater share of the Cambodian pizza market.

How did the ball start for Pizza Hut’s foray into the kingdom?
The story began in 2020 when a consulting company in Cambodia approached us, showing the intention to bring Pizza Hut to the Kingdom. At the time, Yum! Brands Inc, the parent company of Pizza Hut, was looking to expand the brand into Asia Pacific and the consulting firm had been tasked with finding a potential partner for the business.

We joined the tender with several other candidates, most of which were subsidiaries of Cambodian conglomerates – one was a company from a neighboring country. After a long process, we were honored and proud to have been chosen as the operator of the world class Pizza Hut in Cambodia.

And why was UFG chosen over competing offerings?
We were chosen because we would clearly know how to make the brand’s success in Cambodia. We have two decades of food and beverage experience and that is proof that we have the credentials to keep Pizza Hut running smoothly in the Kingdom.

UFG is the owner of the leading Cambodian restaurant chain Park Cafe – which operates 20 stores in the Kingdom – and is majority owned by V-Trust Group with Singapore-based EMIA Investments Cambodia.
That being said, with enough capital, resources, expertise, and a clear vision, we were a trusted candidate, and we are committed to making Pizza Hut the pizza brand of choice among Cambodian youth who prefer style. of modern life.

Where do you see Pizza Hut Cambodia in the next few years?
Although pizza is western food, eating it in Cambodia is very common, especially among young people. UFG projections in 2019 suggested that the pizza market would generate at least $ 100 million in revenue in the Kingdom that year, with an annual growth rate of between 15-20%.

We believe Pizza Hut will be able to get a bigger share of the Cambodian pizza market, and we plan to open as many stores in the next three years as existing chains did in 15.
We aim to promote the modern pizza culture in Cambodia, with the good quality of the original pizza brand.

How does Pizza Hut compare to its industry peers?
The pizza is neither Cambodian nor ASEAN food, but a western meal. Pizza Hut is originally from the United States, although there are many brands of pizza from the ASEAN block.

Unlike its peers, Pizza Hut Cambodia has the superior advantage of sharing best practices across the world, which allows us to innovate new products, deliver world-class food safety and apply the best designs. of concept store.
Pizza Hut has 18,703 restaurants in over 110 countries around the world. You can imagine that if a new product were developed every year in each country, we would have at least 110 new services and products that could improve customer satisfaction.

We were the first brand to launch “cheese bites” and “pan-pan pizzas”, and we will continue to introduce new products, new tastes, new looks so that our customers can experience quality products from world class they could never experience. taste in other chains.

In terms of food safety, we source our vegetables certified Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and only use water filtered and tested by the Pasteur Institute in Cambodia.

What does the brand’s debut mean for the market landscape?
For many pizza lovers, the arrival of Pizza Hut in Cambodia will offer a better choice, but it will also be a red flag for the competition to be wary of the heritage of the new brand.

Like it or not, our competitors will need to improve their service and quality to maintain their market share, as they would not want to be forced to accept thinner portions.
Therefore, the benefits will flow to the end users.

Once again, the original taste of world-class pizza has arrived, and it could very well be a nightmare for existing players.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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