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The company with the 'Better Ingredients. Better Pizza' pledge is about to open its 100th store in the UK and has outlined ambitious expansion plans for the next two years. The 100th store will be located in Hammersmith and that is set to be followed by a minimum of two new openings a month throughout 2008, as Papa John's steps up its drive for new franchise partners across the country.

After recently announcing that a leading former Burger King franchisee had thrown his weight behind these plans with a deal to open over 10 stores, Papa John's has also secured funding through its US parent organisation to invest heavily in expanding its company owned operations in the UK. With a heavy presence at a string of franchise exhibitions and shows during the early months of 2008, Papa John's is looking to break through the 200 store barrier within three years.

UK Managing Director Ian Saunders will officially open the centenary store at Hammersmith and the industry veteran believes it is the perfect way to kick off the huge push to open UK stores. He says: 'Papa John's has been something of a sleeping giant in the UK market up until now, but anyone who has enjoyed delivery or takeaway food in America will know just how powerful this brand can be - globally the company has over 3,000 stores. 'Even with that phenomenal size though, we have never set out to be the biggest pizza company in the world and that is not our ambition in the UK - we simply want to communicate to people that we are the very best. Our founder John Schnatter recently spent time with our UK franchise partners and his enthusiasm for making great pizza is absolutely astounding, he still finds sending a substandard product out of the kitchen as unacceptable as he did when he opened the first store in the early '80s.'

That 'Better Ingredients. Better Pizza' pledge came after a young John Schnatter worked as a dish washer in a US pizza parlour and observed the leftovers that came back on the plates at the end of each meal. That convinced him that if you could bake fresh, quality pizzas that people wanted to eat every bite of then you would be a success - and 3,000 stores later his point has been proven. John now believes the same quality gap exists in the UK market and is fully backing his company's rapid expansion plans in this country. He says: 'I just stayed focused on paying for the best ingredients and consistently making pizzas that people complimented us on, and things started to build from there.'People wanted to be a part of what we were doing because they saw the impact we were having, but the competition didn't really see the threat until it was too late. Having spent time with the guys in the UK it is clear that a great opportunity exists and the beauty is that business partners can still get involved with us now at a time when there is pretty much limitless opportunity and potential.'

That view was echoed by one of the company's newest multi-unit partners Geoff Parsons, who explained his decision for choosing Papa John's ahead of the rest. 'Papa John's had always been on my radar but over the last 12 months they have demonstrated how single minded their approach to delivering a great product and service and they also have the geographical availability to allow a franchise partner to develop a whole territory - which is exactly what I have agreed to do.'


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