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Domino’s pizza driven out of Italy: Chain shuts its last store in failure to convert country

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Domino’s pizza is driven out of Italy: Chain shuts its last store in failure of seven-year campaign to convert the country to American-style slices

  • Last of Domino’s 29 stores in Italy has now shut, snuffing out plans for an additional 880 stores to be opened in the country 
  • The pizza chain had claimed some Italians are ‘not afraid of putting pineapple on pizza’ but the increased competition in the food market has taken its toll on Domino’s
  • Local independent competitors offering delivery during pandemic have won the battle against the Michigan-founded pizza chain 
  • Parent company ePizza blames ‘increased competition in food delivery market’
  • Domino’s was founded in 1960 in Ypsilanti, Michigan – and now currently has over 5,649 stores in the US alone 

Just a year after Domino’s claimed Italians were ‘not afraid of putting pineapple on pizza’, the American delivery giant has closed its final store in the country.

Blaming ‘significantly increased competition in the food delivery market’, Michigan-founded Domino’s confirmed that it shut the last of its 29 branches in Italy after failing to compete in the birthplace of pizza. 

Domino’s – whose global headquarters are in Ann Arbor – had planned to open 880 stores and cook up a two per cent market share in the home of pizza, but lasted just seven years in the European country.

Cultural differences and the strength of existing pizza sellers put a stop to the company’s bold plans before they were oven ready.

A ‘For Sale’ banner outside a closed-down Domino’s Pizza Inc. store in Rome, Italy

Domino's had hoped to open 880 restaurants across Italy, but failed after a peak of just 34

Domino’s had hoped to open 880 restaurants across Italy, but failed after a peak of just 34

Pizzeria O'Barone in Naples, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, symbolises the Italian craft

Pizzeria O’Barone in Naples, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, symbolises the Italian craft

Parent company ePizza told shareholders: ‘We attribute the issue to the significantly increased level of competition in the food delivery market with both organized chains and ‘mom & pop’ restaurants delivering food’, Bloomberg reported.

Domino’s presence in Italy peaked in 2021, with 34 restaurants in operation, including five in Rome.

A company representative bragged that their success showed there are some Italians ‘not afraid of putting pineapple on pizza’. 

But as independent rivals signed deals with delivery firms such as Just Eat and Deliveroo, Domino’s edge quickly vanished.

Domino's unapologetically American-style pizza failed to capture the imagination in Italy

Domino’s unapologetically American-style pizza failed to capture the imagination in Italy

The nation’s franchisers borrowed more than €10million in a desperate effort to keep the company afloat. 

Protection against lenders calling in the cash expired last month.

It’s not exactly clear when the firm’s final branch in Italy closed for business, although online orders have been unavailable since July 29. 

The failure of Domino’s to take hold in the home of pizza may serve as a cautionary tale to American appropriators, but some global fast food chains have had success.

Domino’s was founded in 1960 in Ypsilanti, Michigan – and now currently has over 5,649 stores in the US alone. 

McDonald’s employs 25,000 people in 640 restaurants across Italy, while Burger King operates 225 eateries.

The company had boasted that some Italians were ready to embrace pineapple on pizza

The company had boasted that some Italians were ready to embrace pineapple on pizza

Domino's has also seen its profits fall more than 16 per cent in the UK, with supply costs rising

Domino’s has also seen its profits fall more than 16 per cent in the UK, with supply costs rising

In the UK, Domino’s has seen its profits fall some 16 per cent as the cost of ingredients has spiked. 

The company said it increased prices for its franchisees but this was on a ‘lagged basis’, meaning that the full benefit will not be felt until the final six months of the year.

It added it is expecting profits to be weighted towards the end of the year and kept its full-year estimates unchanged.

Domino’s said it will boost its marketing spend ‘significantly’ to attract more customers, having seen sales dip 6.4 per cent due to the increase in VAT.

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