Sector Spotlight: Pizza Franchises

Affordable, quick and satisfying the brain’s reward centers, pizza is also fairly recession-proof – food fit for an age of austerity.

From Pizza Hut to Papa John’s, pizza delivery account for some of franchising’s biggest brands.

Their stellar success attests to both the product’s soaring popularity and it’s suitability to the franchising model.

Affordable, quick and satisfying the brain’s reward centres, pizza is also fairly recession-proof – food fit for an age of austerity.

Facts and Stats

  • In the UK, one in six pizzas bought is delivered.
  • Saturday is the most popular day of the week for ordering pizza. 
  • In 2014, the Uk pizza delivery market was valued at £1,125m. 
  • The UK's favourite pizza topping is .... wait for it..... mushrooms, followed by onions, ham and peppers. 
  • Despite the Iceland's president wanting to ban it, more than half of Brits like pineapple on their pizza.
  • Oxford consumes the most pizza in the UK.
  • 49% of Brits eat pizza at least once a week.
  • We spend approximately £2.9 billion on pizza each year.
  • The market leader is Dominos, closely followed by Papa John's and Pizza Hut. 

A resilient sector 

As Dominos CEO Don Meij said: "In this business, it's not so much what happens in the economy, it's really our promotions and anything a competitor might do that would have a bigger impact on us.

"Pizza is kind of resilient – good or bad times people get home-delivered pizzas, it is affordable and meets all those needs"

Don Meij, Dominos CEO

Sales at Domino’s, the UK’s largest pizza delivery operator, hit £1,004.2m in 2016, a significant leap from £877.2m the previous year.

They sold 94m pizzas and there was 14.9m app downloads, meaning that digital sales represented 72% off all delivered sales. 

The chain also hit a record number of sotores, opening 81 new stores in the UK in 2016. 

Simplicity

Think about it this way: it’s effectively a single, large piece of bread covered in tomato sauce, cheese and other toppings. That’s pretty simple really, and quick and easy to make in bulk.

Accomplished chefs can prepare the dough and toppings in a staggering 1-2 minutes and a pizza bakes in around eight minutes – so 10 minutes from start to finish. 

That customers love the taste as much as operators value its simplicity makes for quite a product. 

Simple, yes, but not without variety. On the contrary, no other food form allows such scope for customisation. Rather than choosing from a menu of rigid choices, you can choose whatever combination of toppings you prefer.

Big players like Papa John’s and Pizza Hut innovate constantly so the menu never grows tired. Just when you thought they’d exhausted all reasonable possibilities a stuffed crust, super-thin bases and other innovations appear on the menu.

Papa John’s director of property and franchising Alan Mason says innovation is at the heart of the

brand’s success:

“We have a research and development director and get a lot of input from our franchisees, our franchise advisory council and our national marketing advisory council,” he says. “We are constantly innovating and developing new pizzas.”

Alan Mason, director of property and franchising, Papa John's. 

Pizza Hut, named because the original restaurant was shaped like a hut, is the most venerable of operators. Launched in Kansas in 1958 and arriving on these shores in 1973, it has restaurants as well as home delivery outlets although the latter component is what franchisees operate.

Franchisees

So there’s plenty to recommend about the product. So what does it take to succeed as a franchisee?

In common with other fast-food sectors, pizza delivery doesn’t necessarily require franchisees with food-service experience.

It helps, because you understand the business,” says Mason, “but you could just have experience operating any other business or have been involved in business at various levels – then you bring a different outlook to it.

What we tell those people is that it’s sometimes good to have someone in your setup with experience in the fast-food industry. However, we offer a comprehensive, three-week training programme and ongoing training, so they can learn the business and operate it without prior experience.”

It’s not so much a culinary background as a strong character that marks you out as franchisee material.

I think most of all you’ve got to be enthusiastic, personable. It’s a people business, not only with your staff but also with customers; you’ve got to be able to relate to people.

Your lifestyle needs are another consideration.

"It’s a seven-day week business, not a Monday to Friday, nine-to-five job,” says Mason. “Our key hours are between 4pm and 9pm. 

"Obviously Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the busiest nights of the week, so you’ve got to be willing to work weekends.”