Pizza Hut staffing crunch takes slice out of parent Yum Brands sales

(Reuters) -Yum Brands Inc missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue and profit on Wednesday, as a fall in U.S. sales at Pizza Hut chain due to staffing shortages overshadowed growth at KFC and Taco Bell.

Pizza Hut rival Domino’s Pizza Inc also missed quarterly sales estimates last week and warned staffing shortages and inflation would pressure its business further into the year.

Same-store sales at U.S. Pizza Hut locations fell 6% in the first quarter, while it rose 1% and 5% at KFC and Taco Bell restaurants, respectively.

Shares of Yum declined around 4% in premarket trading, having dropped about 17% drop so far this year.

Total revenue rose to $1.55 billion from $1.49 billion a year earlier, but missed estimates of $1.59 billion.

Hourly workers have been turning to higher paying jobs in a tight labor market, leaving U.S. restaurants scrambling to staff their outlets adequately and recruit delivery drivers to fulfill online orders.

The labor crunch has hit when a strained supply chain has already made it harder for restaurants to meet consumer demand.

For Louisville, Kentucky based Yum, comparable sales rose 3% in the quarter ended March 31, missing analysts’ average estimate for a 3.8% increase, according to Refinitiv data.

Net income rose to $399 million, or $1.36 per share, from $326 million, or $1.07 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Yum Brands earned $1.05 per share, missing estimates of $1.07.

(Reporting by Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Sriraj Kalluvila)