Johannesburg; Tuesday, 11 November 2014: South Africa’s iconic pizza brand, Debonairs Pizza, opens its milestone 500th restaurant today in the recently launched Newtown Junction in Johannesburg’s CBD. Founded in 1991, this brand has grown from a single outlet in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu Natal to a network of restaurants extending across South Africa, the Rest of Africa and as far afield as India and the United Arab Emirates. Debonairs Pizza is widely recognised for pioneering the pizza category in South Africa and for introducing the concept of take-out and home delivery in the country.
The cornerstone of the brand’s success is innovation: from the very early days of previously unheard-of free, efficient home delivery and inventive locality marketing (necessitated by a shoestring budget), Debonairs Pizza has grown exponentially establishing a reputation for ground-breaking creativity, derived from invaluable consumer insight and long-term relationships, underpinned by a customer database developed over two decades.
Famous Brands Group Chief Executive, Kevin Hedderwick says, “With all the activity in the pizza category at the moment and the entry of international players, it is a triumph for Debonairs Pizza to celebrate this milestone; it is testament to the strength of this brand, and evidence of the support from our franchise partners and the affinity which the brand enjoys from our loyal customers.”
Debonairs Pizza has accomplished numerous milestones over its 23-year history.
On the first night of trading in 1991 eight pizzas were delivered to customers. Today some 2.2 million transactions are conducted in South Africa and the Rest of Africa region every month and 27.5 million pizzas are delivered per year;
With innovation as its watchword, the brand introduced popular concepts such as: Double Stack™, Crammed Crust™ and Triple Decker™; while in size the offering ranges from the 19cm ‘Real Deal’ across the spectrum to the ‘Supa’ 40cm Square Pizza.
Innovation in product is continued across technology and trading formats: Debonairs Pizza was the first QSR brand to introduce the “Hot or Not Dot” and Acutemp delivery bags to ensure product arrived at the customer hot; another first for the industry was the ‘Flop Stopper’ a four leg plastic device designed to support two pizzas in a box;
The brand’s first non-delivery shopping mall restaurant opened in 2001, the Debonairs Pizza Express format was introduced in 2008, and the first Drive Thru restaurant was launched in 2011;
Debonairs Pizza was the first QSR brand to offer online and mobile ordering – in 2010. Today the brand has 271 000 registered online users, 22 000 Twitter followers and in excess of 320 000 Facebook Friends. There has been a 45% increase in online ordering over the past year;
Since founding, the brand has won or been a runner-up in every award in the category, ranging from Best Pizza, Brand-builder of the Year, Franchisor of the Year, Coolest Fast Food Outlet and Coolest Fast Food Brand to Best Pizza Place and Best Fast Food Outlet;
In 2012 the brand launched its “Dough Nation” CSI initiative, whereby all fresh left-over dough is baked into pizza breads and donated to local charities supporting disadvantaged communities. Since May 2014, 121 000 pizza breads have been donated; and
By the end of December 2014 Debonairs Pizza’s network will comprise 520 restaurants, including pilot restaurants in Angola and Ethiopia. The brand currently employs almost 5 700 staff across its network.
Mohamed Moosa, franchisee of the 500th restaurant, opened his first Debonairs Pizza restaurant in the Carlton Centre in 2004. This happened to be the brand’s 199th restaurant at the time. Over the years he has become a successful multiple-store operator.
Moosa comments, “I am delighted to be opening the brand’s milestone 500th restaurant, after narrowly missing out on the 200th store milestone. I am very proud to be associated with Debonairs Pizza which has been the market leader for many years primarily based on our absolute focus on product quality.”
Derrian Nadauld, Managing Executive, Debonairs Pizza notes, “Given that consumption of pizza per capita in Africa and South Africa is still relatively low compared to developed Western markets, we have for a number of years been focused on growing our footprint to better service existing and new emerging markets. This strategy, together with our unwavering focus on quality has ensured that we’ve grown not only our brand presence, but the pizza category as a whole.”
Nadauld says, “The pizza category is becoming increasingly competitive, which is good for the growth of this market segment. However, we are on record as saying that we will vigorously defend our market share, and just as importantly, protect every single one of our franchise partners who have invested in the Debonairs Pizza brand.”
“Debonairs Pizza’s first foray outside of South Africa was in 1997 to Swaziland; in the intervening years we have exported the concept to eleven other African countries, to India, and the UAE. We are very enthusiastic about the continued growth potential of this brand – in all the markets we trade in. Having attained the 500th restaurant milestone and in the context of sustained demand from landlords, franchisees and consumers, we are inspired to continue to build on the momentum of this highly aspirational brand,” Nadauld concludes.
For further information:
Group Chief Executive
Famous Brands Ltd
Telephone: 011 651 5812