Pizza delivery chain PHQ by Pizza Hut is opening seven new stores nationwide this year, which will create 260 new jobs. More outlets are also planned for 2010.

PHQ by Pizza Hut currently employs more than 400 people in Ireland and by the end of this year it predicts that it will have more than 30 outlets.

Pizza Hut is the world's largest pizza restaurant and delivery company and last year it bought the Godfathers Pizza brand here. John and Patrick Cronin - the founders of Godfathers - became the master franchisees for delivery stores in Ireland.

'Irish consumers are without doubt, tightening their purse strings, but they are still looking for a satisfying and inexpensive alternative to dining out, during the recession,' commented John Cronin.

Pizza Hut is owned by US giant Yum Restaurants, which also owns KFC.

Earlier this month, Pizza Hut said it was closing five outlets in Northern Ireland, with the loss of 130 jobs. The franchisee, Restaurant Management Services Ltd, which operated 14 restaurants, went into administration.