GF Issue 54

“Franchising always tends to performa little bit better than the overall economy.To break it down to one word, it’s ‘resilient,’ it’s a very resilient businessmodel” Matthew Heller, International Franchise Association (IFA) President 2 KOTIPIZZA A role model for fast-casual sustainability It may not have an international presence like Papa John’s, but when it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, award- winning Finnish pizza restaurant franchise Kotipizza leads the way with a solid model that embraces sustainability with integrity, profitability and domestic growth. With over 300 restaurants across Finland, Kotipizza is the largest pizza chain in the Nordic region, investing in digitalization, AI and tech as strongly as its sustainability measures. The chain boasts an inhouse digital customer loyalty program with hundreds of thousands of members, a one-of-a- kind home delivery service that utilizes AI-driven dynamic pricing, and innovative sustainability efforts such as its own wind power plant energy supply and Climate Calculator. Some of the home deliveries are made on eco-friendly electric scooters. Kotipizza is the first pizza chain in the world to achieve the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSG) stringent certification for serving only sustainably sourced fish and seafood, and the brand is committed to making all its food products carbon neutral by 2030, demanding that all its partners operate sustainably too. As such, Kotipizza has earned numerous accolades, last year bagging a European Franchise Award for Innovation & Sustainability, becoming the first of its industry to join the Sustainable Brand Index survey, and ranking as the Most Sustainable Company in the Quick Service Industry by World Finance Magazine. Kotipizza Group was acquired by Orkla in June 2019 after its market value increased by 450%. Now it operates as an independent company within Orkla Finland and plays a vital role in the company’s Out of Home strategy alongside New York Pizza (homebase in the Netherlands) and Da Grasso (Poland). These three strong franchise brands, with their combined footprint of 860 restaurants in five European countries, form The European Pizza Company, which aims to use its collective strength to be Europe’s leading collection of sustainable pizza brands, guiding best practices in the fast casual sector. Right now, Kotipizza continues to invest in technology and digitalisation, which remains its prime focus for the next five years, alongside its ongoing commitment to sustainability and environmental goals. As both these movements become increasingly important to consumers, forward-thinking franchisors would do well to keep an eye on this innovative brand. 1 PAPA JOHN’S Finding new growth markets in the U.S. When it comes to satisfying the world’s insatiable appetite for pizza, the doors are open for brands prepared to invest and innovate. Papa John’s 2024 strategy includes thoughtful but accelerated U.S. expansion to add to its 5,825 restaurants already spanning 48 countries and territories. As such the franchisor is in growth discussions with existing U.S. franchise partners while actively prospecting new, growth-centric operators who stand to benefit from recent menu innovations, product introductions and an emphasis on digital enhancements to the already-successful loyalty program. Features like early access to new products, better targeting of offers and promotions and higher frequency and tickets have boosted the brand’s digital channels, which contributed more than 85% towards sales in 2023. “Papa Johns is already an iconic brand, yet we see significant opportunities for further expansion in the U.S.,” says Patrick Coelho, SVP of Development. “Our current emphasis lies in strategically broadening our presence, capitalizing on whitespace and underdeveloped markets, and creating new avenues for growth.” POWERL I ST: FRANCHI SES TO WATCH IN 2024 20 GLOBAL FRANCHISE | ISSUE 8.2