Pizza Hut just lost its 4-year win streak as top pizza chain to this rival

Key Points
  • Pizza Hut was dethroned as the "best pizza chain brand of the year" by rival Papa John's.
  • The survey was conducted prior to Yum Brands' disclosing that it would invest $130 million into the pizza chain.
Papa John's knocks Pizza Hut out of top spot
Papa John's knocks Pizza Hut out of top spot

It seems that Yum Brands' $130 million investment in Pizza Hut couldn't have come at a better time for the struggling brand.

A Harris Poll study published on Tuesday reinforced just how far the pizza joint has fallen in recent quarters.

For the last four years, Pizza Hut has been named the "best pizza chain brand of the year" by Harris Poll's EquiTrend study.

However, this year, the chain was usurped by rival Papa John's.

The study looks at three factors — familiarity, quality and purchase consideration — and assigns scores to each to create an equity rating for each brand, in this case, about 90 restaurants.

Papa John's saw a boost to its quality and purchase consideration scores this year, according to the Harris Poll, leading to its rise to the top spot. Blaze Pizza received the second-highest score, and Pizza Hut came in third.

The survey was conducted over a two-month period between December 2016 and February 2017, just a few months before Yum Brands disclosed that it would be investing $130 million into its pizza brand in an attempt to revitalize its sluggish same-store sales.

Last quarter, U.S. same-store sales were down 7 percent, according to the company. In previous quarters, the chain has lagged behind as well. Analysts have blamed menu fatigue in the past for these soft sales.

Pizza Hut will use the investment money to upgrade equipment, improve restaurant technology and boost advertising through 2018, Yum's CEO Greg Creed told investors earlier this month.

During an earnings call, he said he was confident these actions would "unlock significant value for years to come."

At the time, Creed equated the Pizza Hut investment to the $180 million that Yum put into KFC in 2015. The chicken chain has since seen 11 quarters of same-store sales growth, he said. The company hopes to see similar improvement in its Pizza Hut brand.

Watch: Yum's plan to turn around Pizza Hut

Yum has a pricey plan to turn around Pizza Hut
Yum has a pricey plan to turn around Pizza Hut