NPC International's franchises include a Springfield restaurant at 1212 S. Grant Ave.
SBJ photo by Geoff Pickle
NPC International's franchises include a Springfield restaurant at 1212 S. Grant Ave.

Franchisee of local Pizza Hut stores files for bankruptcy

Posted online

The operator of seven Pizza Hut franchises in Springfield filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Leawood, Kansas-based NPC International Inc. cited the COVID-19 pandemic in announcing the filing this morning in a news release. The company bills itself as the largest Pizza Hut franchisee, with more than 1,220 locations.

NPC does not plan to close restaurants or lay off employees as part of the bankruptcy process. Jon Weber, president and CEO of NPC’s Pizza Hut division, in the release pointed to plans "to use this process to continue to evaluate and optimize our restaurant portfolio so that we are best positioned to meet the needs of consumers across the country." The company also operates Wendy's franchises, but none in the Springfield market.

“As our industry has been in the midst of dynamic changes due to shifting consumer preferences and dining behavior, we also have been facing increased labor and commodities costs and a higher level of financial leverage that presents obstacles to achieving our long-term business objectives,” Weber said in the release. “These challenges have been magnified recently by the impact and uncertainty of COVID-19, and we believe it is necessary to take proactive steps to strengthen our capital structure, so we have the financial flexibility to continue to adapt to current industry trends."

The websites of NPC and Pizza Hut show the franchisee operates seven of eight locations in Springfield. A restaurant inside Target, at 1825 E. Primrose St., is not listed as an NPC-operated location.

In its bankruptcy filing, NPC lists estimated assets and liabilities each in the $1 billion to $10 billion range.

As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, NPC entered into a restructuring support agreement with lenders designed to "restructure the company’s balance sheet and optimize its portfolio of restaurants throughout the country," according to the release.