For the past three years, Pizza Hut Restaurants has been rolling out a brand new aesthetic in its stores, with over half refurbished to date. Here, Deputy Managing Director Henry Birts discusses just why creating the right atmosphere is so important to customer experience ...

Customer experience is everything in the hospitality industry. With so much choice available it’s hugely important for businesses to listen to customer feedback and innovate accordingly to remain competitive. For restaurant businesses in particular, I believe that delivering a great customer experience is down to perfecting three key elements – service, décor and the food on offer.

We are currently undergoing the biggest change programme in the history of the brand. We’ve implemented a strategy to make Pizza Hut Restaurants the most loved place to eat and work - injecting a new look and feel to each and every one of our restaurants and introducing new menu items to excite and delight our guests.

Creating a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere is key to driving guests through the door while delivering an excellent customer service is vital to keep them coming back. Over the past three years we have undergone a significant refurbishment programme, funded through a broader £60 million investment strategy which began in 2012 when Rutland Partners acquired the business.

We worked in partnership with Harrison, an international hospitality design consultancy, to introduce fresh new elements that embrace an eclectic style but still give a nod to our American roots.

"The new look is vibrant and impressive with neon signs occupying the wall space alongside brightly coloured shooting star motifs and impressive feature walls"

The new look is vibrant and impressive with neon signs occupying the wall space alongside brightly coloured shooting star motifs and impressive feature walls. Circular booths resplendent with red leather seats invite guests to share their experience – a message re-enforced across our ‘Hut is made for sharing’ signs.

While long-standing and regular customers will still feel comfortable when they eat with us, we’ve deliberately introduced a completely new design and style to our restaurants to create a new vibe and atmosphere.

New lighting and seating help create real energy when you walk through the door and that carries through to the wall decoration, our famous icons including the Ice Cream Factory and salad bar right through to the new bars we’ve introduced. We wanted to excite our existing customers but at the same time surprise and delight new or lapsed customers by giving them something new and unexpected.

For us it is important that we don’t sit still and continue to evolve the design. We want each one of our guests to feel welcome and comfortable from families and couples to groups of friends.

By changing elements depending on location, we are deliberately making sure we don’t apply a cookie cutter approach to the refurbishments. For example, in flagship restaurants such as our Ashford Hut in Kent, a new cocktail bar and full drinks menu has been introduced, providing an animated evening destination to appeal to wider customer base.

With more than half of our 272 Hut portfolio now complete, we are already reaping the benefits, achieving sustained growth over the past few years with enhanced sales performance. In addition reactions from employees and customers has been overwhelmingly positive too.

By continuing to revitalise the brand, introduce new innovative menu items and invest in the training and development of our people, we’re confident we can build on that success and deliver the complete package to drive people through the door and keep them coming back.