New pizza brand enters the market
US-based pizza chain, Little Caesars is set to open its first Australian store in the Sydney suburb of Casula on 2 October.
Heading up the local arm of the business is director/master franchisee Ernest Koury, who has relocated to Australia to focus on growing the brand.
He told Franchising Little Caesars' offering is different from the nation’s existing pizza chains for three primary reasons.
“From a quality standpoint we make the pizzas in the same way that we did when the business was started back in 1959. All of our dough is made from scratch every day and we use the freshest ingredients possible – we don’t use tomato paste in our sauce, it is all fresh packed tomatoes,” he says.
“Our cheese is a blend of mozzarella and Muenster cheese, which isn’t available in Australia right now – it [Muenster] adds that creaminess to the pizza.”
While Pizza Hut and Domino’s have both introduced $4.95 pizzas in recent months, Koury explains value is another factor that differentiates Little Caesars from its competitors.
“Our 14-inch pizzas are 62 percent larger than the 11-inch large pizzas that are traditionally sold in Australia, and we charge $7.95 for the pepperoni and cheese pizzas. If you take an 11-inch pizza and you go 62 percent more it costs over eight dollars.
“When you look at a $7.95 pizza that feeds four kids it’s less than two dollars per serving – that’s the kind of value we’re talking about.”
He adds the business also offers convenience through what has been referred to as its Hot-N-Ready pizzas.
“It means a customer can visit our store or use the drive-thru and get our pizzas and sides in less than 30 seconds.”
Despite its fast turnaround, Koury reiterates the system does not compromise on quality. “Everything is freshly made. Our stores are traditionally busier – a lot of our customers are going to be buying the pepperoni and cheese pizzas because of their value and convenience, so we have very stringent quality regulations.
“If a pizza is not fresh we don’t sell it to a customer, so when they come to Little Caesars they are going to get the absolute best quality, freshest products.”
The drive-thru service also includes LED menu screens and payment options including the PayPal app.
A national presence is the plan
While he is Little Caesars’ Australian master franchisee, Koury does not plan to recruit franchisees to head up local sites.
“I am not looking to line up 50 franchisees; we plan to open all of the stores ourselves so that way we can control the product, the quality and the message,” he says.
“We’re not just out for rapid growth; we are looking for quality in our operations and execution, so for me it is important that we grow intelligently rather than quickly.”
While NSW will be the brand’s initial focus, national expansion is on the cards. “We are going to look at opening three to five stores within the first 12 months and probably between 20 and 30 stores in the first four to five years.
“Obviously we are going to be developing throughout Australia so there is the potential for hundreds of stores,” Koury adds.