US pizza franchise bows out of Australia

By Nick Hall | 02 Jul 2019 View comments

US pizza franchise California Pizza Kitchen has folded less than three years after launching in Australia.

The business, which was started in Beverly Hills in 1985, boasts a network of over 250 stores across 11 countries. Despite a solid global presence however, the pizza franchise failed to make an impact on Perth’s local dining sector.

Successful real-estate entrepreneur Peter Peard, along with daughter Hannah and business partner Russell Hextall brought the business to Australia in September 2016.

Peard’s ritzy 9500 square foot restaurant on Hillary’s Boat Harbour was the biggest in the California Pizza Kitchen network. However, on Sunday, the pizza franchise outlet served its last pie.

Pizza Australia, the company that operates the business was wound up at a general meeting last Monday, with RSM Australia’s Gregory Bruce Dudley and Travis Kukura appointed as liquidators.

Speaking with The West Australian, Peard suggested the sluggish WA economy had left consumers more budget conscious.

“We had a polished casual fullservice dining concept with fresh produce and Perth people are so budget conscious, we couldn’t compete with $3.50 pints and $10 steaks,” Peard told The West Australian’s Linda Parri.

The real estate entrepreneur revealed that while he was unsure how many creditors there were, he was by far the biggest personal creditor.

Second in line was daughter and business partner Hannah Peard, who operates as Pizza Australia’s sole director and a 25 per cent shareholder.

“Unfortunately, we have been operating in market conditions that are getting tougher and tougher,” Miss Peard told The West Australian.

The pair had previously indicated that they were looking to expand the pizza franchise, setting a target of three additional restaurants in Perth over three years. However, Monday’s appointment puts an end to what has been a difficult few years for the US-born brand.