One of the key drivers of this growth will be a rising population. The rapid growth of new outer suburbs gives early entrants into the area a clear advantage, and larger networks are well placed to optimise the opportunities and take advantage of consumers’ discretionary spending.
Takeaway and delivery have become the backbone of the pizza industry, which has been the lifeblood for any hospitality business over the last two years. Armed with tech tools that cater to convenience, savvy operators have benefited from the lockdown order-in trend.
Over the last five years technology has been a crucial tool for the larger brands, with Domino’s and Pizza Hut both launching contactless deliveries, while smaller chains have introduced online ordering.
While accessibility to third-party delivery services has benefited pizza franchises across the market, the heavy commission has eaten into profit over the last two years. Add in the cost of rent and there has been an overall decline in profit.
Rising prices for ingredients, in part due to supply and distribution issues caused by the pandemic, and increased competition from other brands in the market are expected to have an impact on profitability.
Another factor that IBISWorld predicts will challenge the pizza industry is the further development of pre-cooked and fast-cooking healthy food options in supermarkets.
In what has been a price-driven market, the good news is the continued demand for gourmet pizza, with consumers prepared to pay extra for premium products. Menu innovation will become increasingly important, suggests Pizza Restaurants and Takeaway in Australia Report author Suzy Oo.
Getting a slice of the action
Dominated by a few household names, the pizza franchise market is nonetheless diverse, with smaller brands offering a more localised or niche offering – some including dine-in.
Leading the pack is Domino’s which according to IBISWorld holds a massive 27.4 per cent market share. Its closest competitors are Pizza Hut, with an estimated market share of 5.7 per cent, and then Retail Food Group, which owns both Crust Gourmet Pizza and Pizza Capers, and has 4 per cent of the market.
Here, we chat with three retail leaders in the pizza game, who discuss their business’ plans and how they have innovated in recent years.
Nick Knight, recently retired CEO Domino’s Australia and New Zealand
What has been the trend in pizza sales over the past 12 months?
With millions of people required to stay home and self-isolate, and Covid restrictions sending states and territories across Australia in and out of snap lockdowns, Domino’s has seen an increase in demand for food delivery. This increased demand has seen the company hire more than 4500 team members in the past 12 months to help make, bake and take piping hot pizzas to customers using Zero Contact Delivery.
As a highly digitised business, Domino’s has for several years led the way with its tech developments. Has everyone else now caught up?
At Domino’s, we run our own race and don’t compare ourselves to our competitors. We are proud to be a leader in the food-technology space, achieving many industry firsts in drone delivery, app ordering, voice assistants, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. But we don’t innovate for innovation’s sake. We do so with purpose and with our team members and customers front of mind – using technology to improve the experience for our team members and customers.
How far ahead is Domino’s planning tech innovation? What are you working on now?
At Domino’s, we are always testing new concepts, from simple changes in online ordering that make it faster and easier for customers to process their online order, to concepts that rethink the way customers can order entirely. We are currently working on several exciting projects, including the next generation of online ordering (including both a website and app update). Stay tuned!
How does Domino’s distinguish itself from competitors?
Nobody delivers like Domino’s. To enable faster pickup and delivery times, we launched Project 3TEN – an initiative that aims to have a pizza ready for pickup within three minutes, or safely delivered within 10. Using advanced predictive technology and things like e-bikes and faster ovens, we have been able to serve our customers faster, hotter and fresher pizzas than ever before.
Only Domino’s delivers Domino’s. You will never see a Domino’s meal delivered by anyone other than a Domino’s Delivery Expert. Our Delivery Experts are hired as employees, not contractors, with the same entitlements as other team members. We are proud to pay amongst the highest wages in the industry, including penalty rates for late nights, weekends and public holidays.
Over the years, we have also implemented a number of safety procedures designed specifically for our delivery fleet to ensure the safety of our drivers and fellow road users, including providing safety equipment such as high visibility vests and helmets; undertaking regular vehicle maintenance and safety checks; conducting mandatory safety training; and utilising technology like GPS Driver Tracker to monitor speed and harshness of driving.
Domino’s delivers more than just pizza – we take pride in supporting the local communities in which we operate. Throughout the pandemic, Domino’s has remained focused on looking for new ways to provide customers with joyful experiences, including but not limited to, paying up to $5000 worth of household bills for those who lost their job due to Covid-19; helping more than 100 couples with cancelled weddings commemorate their original date with a pizza party for two; and donating more than 22,000 safe, hot meals to frontline healthcare workers and 13,000 more through our “Feed the Knead” program. It’s things like this that make Domino’s more than just a pizza company – we genuinely care about our customers and communities.
Brendan Flanagan, La Porchetta, national franchise development manager
What has been the trend in pizza sales over the past 12 months?
Pizza sales continue to strengthen and they represent a significant share of our market revenue, however our accompanying lines of pasta and protein meals have also performed very well.
How has La Porchetta kept up with tech innovations developed by bigger pizza brands?
We continually explore areas of opportunity within the tech space, with a strong focus on providing increased value to our customers. We are now implementing a new online ordering platform with a loyalty program on our La Porchetta app.
What are the expansion plans?
Our focus continues to be on supporting our current network and carefully recruiting for new sites provided where our strict criteria are met. We are also looking at a variation of the model to meet the needs of the shifting market, especially as it’s evolved over the past two years. We are seeing the market model and consumer demand evolving and we are very much ready and excited to be a part of the shift.
What’s distinctive about La Porchetta?
La Porchetta holds a unique place in the market because of our core menu. Offering a range of lines in large volume is also a strong selling point. We do not pretend to offer all things to all people, however what we do really well is offer high quality pizza, pasta and main courses, including seafood, steak and our ever popular chicken parma.
Of course if the customer prefers a vegan option, we also have that covered. Our focus on building customer loyalty is just as important as our menu and we do that by creating an experience for customers to enjoy with their friends and family so they want to keep coming back. Our clear separation from our competitors is our organic family environment, which some may say is our unique selling proposition, but really we believe it is about facilitating family memories and experiences and this is something very few of our competitors can manufacture.
Jon Paul Partyka, general manager, Crust and Pizza Capers
What has been the trend in premium pizza sales over the past 12 months and how is this informing current and future business strategy?
We’ve noticed a trend towards customers asking for more premium menu options and delivery is still in high demand due to Covid-19 restrictions. Our customers are also looking for more options at a lower price point to add to their favourite pizza orders. We’re structuring our menus to cater to both customer segments.
How is Crust distinct from its competitors?
We’re known for our gourmet pizzas. The quality of our product is our main point of difference. When we do something, we take great pride in it, and ensure we offer our customers a truly exceptional product.
A good example of this is in our Crust stores where we season, cook and slice our chicken breast all in-house – we don’t use anything bagged, it’s all prepared and cooked instore.
We’re also known for our value proposition. While you can go get a cheaper option elsewhere, our customers understand that ultimately you get what you pay for. We pride ourselves on the value we bring our customers through our price versus gourmet ratio.
We’re an open book. If you go into any Crust store, you’ll see your food being prepared before your eyes. We’ve designed our stores this way in an effort to open up our kitchens to our customers – we want our customers to see their food being prepared and share the busy kitchen atmosphere with them.
This article was published in Inside Franchise magazine.