Pizza Express Franchise - Do They Really Franchise?

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pizza express franchise

Originally posted on 24/11/2018. Updated on 14/05/2019.

Over the years, Pizza Express has become one of the country’s most popular pizza restaurants. Established in London in 1965, customers have the chain’s founder, Peter Boizot to thank for the authentic taste of Italy they experience when they dine in a Pizza Express restaurant. Dissatisfied with the standard of pizzas in London, Boizot bought a pizza oven from Italy and launched his own pizza restaurant. His legacy lives on in the success of the hugely popular restaurant chain. Today, customers all over the world can enjoy Pizza Express’ offering, in Cyprus, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE, as well as in the UK and Ireland. The 607 restaurants that cater to the international crowd of customers employ a total of 14,500 team members and generate over £530 million in revenue. The brand also likes to do its bit for charity, and, in 2017, donated £800,000 to good causes.

The Pizza Express Business Model

Because of Boizot’s passion for jazz music, Pizza Express has always worked to forge partnerships with prestigious musicians to promote the brand. In 1969, the original Pizza Express owners opened the Pizza Express Jazz Club in the basement of one of their restaurants. This venue has hosted a number of famous names, including Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse. Some musicians have even been invited to play in other Pizza Express restaurants. This long association with music, and the London jazz scene in particular, has resulted in a great deal of publicity for the brand and enhanced its reputation among many music fans. What’s more, many other businesses appear to be following in Pizza Express’ footsteps, hosting live music events on a regular basis to distinguish itself from the competition and protect against the declining popularity of the high street.

Here, we discuss whether Pizza Express offers franchise opportunities and take a look at alternative franchising opportunities.

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Is Pizza Express a franchise?

In short, no, Pizza Express does not offer franchising opportunities. While there was a brief period in the mid-1990s when the brand took on franchisees to represent and expand the business, it was short-lived, and Pizza Express later regained control of every franchised outlet.

The brand has also undergone several ownership changes. It was privately owned for almost 30 years, before being floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1993. In 2003, it was bought by TDR Capital, before becoming a privately-owned company again. In 2005, the brand was put back on the London Stock Exchange. Most recently, it was bought by the Hony Capital group for around £900 million.

While many of Pizza Express’ competitors, such as Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo and Carluccio’s, have struggled to maintain their position in the pizza restaurant sector in the past few years, the brand are determined to build on its reputation to ensure the longevity of the business. It is important to the leadership team that they don’t lose the values put in place by Boizot all those years ago, so authenticity and great atmosphere will be at the heart of the brand for years to come.

Pizza Express Franchise Cost

Because Pizza Express no longer offers franchise investment opportunities, it is difficult to say exactly how much it would cost to set up a Pizza Express franchise.

Alternative Pizza Franchises

Although you can’t open a franchise unit with Pizza Express, there are a whole host of opportunities to get involved in the pizza sector. Let’s take a look at the top pizza franchises at Point Franchise.

Bella Italia

With over 100 restaurants spread across the UK, Bella Italia will be a familiar name to most consumers. Like Pizza Express, Bella Italia champions authentic Italian dishes and has decades of experience bringing them to its loyal customers. One of its specialities include its hand-stretched pizza and De Cecco pasta, which is imported from Italy and made using the finest quality grains.

The famous chain is on the lookout for investors with experience in the casual dining market and a good list of contacts. You’ll need to be financially capable of investing in the business for at least three years and be willing to make a total investment of £700,000 on your first franchise unit. In return, you’ll gain access to an extensive support system with an online guidance portal, and a dedicated franchise team to help with the management of the business.

Papa John’s

Papa John’s is one of the “big three” businesses in the pizza industry; Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s. While Papa John’s pizza isn’t necessarily as authentically Italian as other brands, it is a huge name among pizza fans and has more than 5,000 branches across 40 countries. Franchisees will need to invest approximately £100,000 if they’re to open their own franchise unit, but the total investment amount could be anywhere between £170,000 and £225,000.

Fireaway

Fireaway is a comparatively little-known pizza franchise. However, that shouldn’t put you off, because it’s also the most affordable. All Fireaway pizzas are cooked using authentic, Italian cooking techniques, so they’re ready within three minutes of being placed in the oven. This brand advocates high-quality ingredients and extensive customer choice, giving every customer the opportunity to build their pizza from scratch and select their preferred toppings.

Because Fireaway is a relatively new franchise, the business is offering investors the opportunity to launch their own business for an investment of just £35,000. The monthly fees are also minimal, at just £250. This affordable franchise should give prospective franchisees the chance to get their own business up and running with the added security of a proven business model.

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