Yum! Brands is seeking a single buyer to purchase its company-owned restaurants and to serve as a master franchisee for the UK market, as it looks to refranchise its entire Pizza Hut UK business. The company currently operates c.700 sites in the UK, including 380 restaurants and 320 delivery units. Out of that estate a handful of restaurant sites and about half of its delivery sites are operated under franchise by over 50 franchisees. The refranching move is a common one for Yum!, with around 80% of its restaurants around the world owned or operated by franchisees. It currently operates 6,000 Pizza Hut restaurants in the US, and more than 5,600 store locations in 94 other countries and territories around the world. The group acquired the remaining 50% stake in Pizza Hut UK from Whitbread in 2006 in a deal worth £112m. At the time of the acquisition it flagged up the possibility that it would ultimately refranchise a good portion of the then c.650-strong business. A spokesperson for Yum! Restaurants International told M&C Report: “Consistent with its strategy of focusing on high growth, high return markets, Yum! Brands has decided to refranchise its entire Pizza Hut UK business and is seeking a single buyer to purchase its company-owned restaurants and to serve as a master franchisee for the market. The UK market is well developed and will benefit from a strong, growth-oriented partner. Pizza Hut ranks as the UK’s favourite pizza and recently launched a re-branding campaign that has resulted in increased transactions and sales.” Pizza Hut UK, which is led by Jens Hofma has recorded five consecutive months of sales growth and reported a 5% rise in sales for the quarter to 3 September 2011. The chain is currently trialling a number of new initiatives as it looks to overhaul its UK business and move away from a product-based model to an experienced-based one. The chain is currently trialling the initiatives in four “flagship huts” in Enfield, Solihull and Northampton, which showcase new fascia, store design and new menu items, including a 'Pizzetta' – a thin crust base pizza for under 500 calories. It is also trialling a concept called Pizza Parade, which replaces the chain’s lunchtime buffet, with food now delivered straight to the table. It is thought that if successful the initiatives will be rolled out to the company’s entire c.380-strong UK restaurant estate.