Papa John's finds the recipe for success

The recent visit of Papa John's President and CEO Nigel Travis to the UK has highlighted the company's high regard for its UK franchise network's prospects.

After achieving great success in the latter part of 2006, Papa John's has continued to prove that its 'Better Ingredients. Better Pizza' pledge to consumers equals better sales for its franchise partners.

The company's unwavering approach to product quality was installed on day one, when John Schnatter founded the business after realising that many pizzas being sold by other stores were not meeting customer expectations.

And over 3,000 stores later, it is that very same ethos that has led Papa John's to scoop over 70 separate product quality awards, including the prestigious US Customer Satisfaction Index, which judges companies on everything from customer service to the taste and appearance of the product.

Papa John's is now in the capable hands of former Blockbuster Video supremo Nigel Travis, and the company's worldwide President & CEO recently visited the UK to outline the massive potential that both he, and his board of directors, believe this market holds. Travis, who is British born and bred, conducted a range of interviews with national publications including the Times, Financial Times and the BBC, in which he spoke passionately about Papa John's determination to become the UK's favourite pizza.

Recent statistics showing the performance in 2007 and the company's position as the country's leading exponent of online technology back this up, and Travis himself is in no doubt that Papa John's franchise partners are only beginning to see the potential of the brand.

He said: 'We are all about quality, in everything from the way the telephone is answered to the appearance of a delivery driver at the door and the way the pizza looks and tastes - that is what we are known for in the US and that is why we have a lot of franchise partners with many happy customers who are making very good money from the business.

'That is the reputation that we will now achieve in the UK. That vision was previously slightly clouded by our involvement with Perfect Pizza and the fact that its offer did not mirror what we were looking to achieve with Papa John's, but since selling that business the early signs are hugely positive.

'We currently have 87 stores and I would expect that number to grow to 100 by the end of this year, but that will still leave massive opportunities for ambitious and entrepreneurial franchise partners who are looking to be part of our success. 'There will be unique opportunities for people to develop key areas of the country, for instance the West Midlands, Central Scotland and the M62 corridor - where they can then open a cluster of outlets. In the US we have a large number of franchisees who own upwards of 30 stores, and while we do not expect that volume in the UK market we can certainly see business people opening between five and 15 Papa John's.'

One of the strongest signs of the company's investment in the UK market paying dividends has been the extraordinary performance of its online operation since the US parent company injected cash into a redevelopment of the website and a £2 million technology upgrade across the stores. That has seen orders on rise from making up just three per cent of sales a year ago to now accounting for over 17 per cent of the company's business. That process has been overseen by UK Marketing Director Jean Michel Fabre, and he believes there is far more to come: 'We are delighted that consumers have embraced the work we have done on the site and that franchise partners are really reaping the rewards in terms of sales.

'The main efforts have been to make the site as user friendly and comfortable for consumers as possible, they can easily see pictures of what they are ordering, prices, they can repeat their last order, defer the delivery of an order and much more.

'This development will continue and we want to ensure that we thank our customers for their support of the website by staying ahead of the game in terms of usability.'

Reported by Dan Clifford