Pizza Hut Names Claes Petersson V.P. Of Innovation

Pizza Hut has taken Claes Petersson from Sonic, Inc. and brought him to the their staff.

According to Media Post, Petersson is leaving his position as vice president of research, development and packaging to accept a newly created position with YUM! Brands Pizza Hut as the new vice president of innovation. “Yum and I have been talking for a while, and we decided that I will start Monday as vice president innovation for Pizza Hut.”

“Sonic has been amazing and [so has] what we have been doing there the last three years. Yum is an exciting brand and I feel honored to be a part of their team and that they asked me to lead their future food creations,” Petersson wrote in an email.

Pizza Hut is bringing Petersson on in preparation for the departure of current Pizza Hut chief food innovation officer Bruce Perkin, who is retiring at the end of the year. Perkin will continue his responsibilities with food safety, supplier management, and menu labeling while Petersson will focus on culinary innovation.

Sonic gives credit to its introduction of new, innovative ideas for its strong financial performance. Recently, Sonic opened a 3,500-square-foot research and development center at its Oklahoma City location, including a test kitchen to experiment with new and existing equipment and menu items, camera that can broadcast training and food demonstrations, and new meeting and conference rooms.

Nation’s Restaurant News is reporting that Petersson had his hand in many new food ideas for Sonic. Those new foods include a lighter line of sodas, real fruit slushes, gourmet chicken sandwiches, and pretzel dogs. Because of his effort, Petersson was named one of the 50 most powerful people in food service by Nation’s Restaurant News.

Petersson joins Pizza Hut in the middle of their “The Flavor Of Now” campaign, which has introduced Pizza Hut customers to new sauces, drizzles, pizza crust flavors, desserts, and pizza options. Their latest, the Big Dipper Flavor Pizza, boasts almost two feet of pizza with a selection of dipping sauces. So far, from their earnings reports for the first quarter, the new campaign is making headway slowly but surely. The new numbers were a bit disappointing, but did show signs of improvement over the previous years.

YUM! Brands is the corporate house for Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. YUM! Brands saw progress from the previous year’s numbers, and hopes Petersson can come in and ignite the innovative possibilities that Pizza Hut holds.

[Image courtesy of Nation’s Restaurant News]