The largest Pizza Hut franchise operator in California has been acquired by private-equity firm Sterling Investment Partners in a deal that is expected to open the door for new growth.
Southern California Pizza Company, based in Corona, Calif., operates 224 Pizza Hut restaurants in Southern California and is the third-largest franchise group within the 7,600-unit pizza chain’s U.S. system.
Details of the transaction were not disclosed.
On Monday, former owner Sentinel Capital Partners, based in New York, announced the sale of Southern California Pizza but did not disclose the buyer.
Sterling Investment Partners, based in Westport, Conn., is scheduled to formally announce the acquisition on Thursday, according to Jerry Ardizzone, chief executive of Southern California Pizza.
Ardizzone said the management team will remain intact under the deal.
“We have a solid management team and we’ve had great results,” Ardizzone said. “Together with our partners at Sentinel, we created a powerful Pizza Hut platform that is a leader in the important Los Angeles quick-service restaurant market.”
Sentinel built the franchise group over the course of four years with two major transactions, as well as opening new locations, according to the announcement from Sentinel.
In 2008, Southern California Pizza acquired its first 123 restaurants through a corporate divestiture by Pizza Hut Inc. A year later, Sentinel acquired another 98 restaurants from the franchisor.
Ardizzone said the new owners plan to invest in restaurant remodels, and are looking for opportunities for further growth.
The transaction will mark Sterling’s first move into the restaurant industry. Other investments in Sterling’s portfolio include HVAC-service provider Service Logic, manufacturer Excelligence Learning Corp., and grocery store chain Fairway Market.