Texas-based CiCi's Pizza has announced its 2012 growth plans to support its continuing 10-year "Build the Brand" initiative to add 500 new restaurants by 2020.

Progress in 2011 included 22 new restaurant openings representing a nearly 25 percent increase in new locations over the previous year, and multiple new partnerships to accelerate expansion.

"As we enter year three of our 'Build the Brand' strategy, we are gaining significant momentum with the new partnerships and tools we've put in place," said CiCi's Pizza CEO Mike Shumsky. "2012 is a pivotal year as we move from the planning stages to deployment of our 10-year program in new and existing markets."

Upcoming initiatives for 2012 include:

  • New products will be introduced quarterly to CiCi's custom buffet. Recently hired culinarian Rebecca Stone, who serves as senior director of food and beverage, will oversee development of new menu items.
  • A new advertising campaign, the first with new agency of record Publicis Dallas, breaks in mid-February to introduce a new signature pizza to CiCi's buffet and to highlight CiCi's variety and value offerings.
  • A redesigned interactive website at www.cicispizza.com, developed by nFusion, launches in early February.
  • A new site model, developed in partnership with Birchwood Resultants, rolls out in early February to help franchisees maximize growth potential through better real estate selection and restaurant design.
  • A test of online ordering with ONOSYS begins in select markets in the second quarter.
  • Kitchen efficiencies, designed to lower franchise investment costs, reduce waste and increase ROI, will be directed by Clif Geisler, recently hired as CiCi's director of operational systems.
  • Franchise incentive programs designed for new and existing operators will launch in mid-February as well as a new program to help U.S. military veterans become CiCi's franchisees.
  • New financing options through companies such as Boefly and others are being offered.

CiCi's will continue its focus on restaurant design improvement in 2012. Last year, CiCi's debuted a new 4,000-square-foot test restaurant in Murphy, Texas, equipped with features that may be incorporated into future restaurants. Features included an extended buffet line, redesigned salad bar, expanded menu boards, new carryout options and new color scheme and decor.

Additionally, 41 existing restaurants were re-imaged, bringing more than 80 percent of the system up to date with the brand's new look and feel.

This year, the company will test a redesigned to-go-only restaurant as well as restaurants with smaller footprints for small towns or urban areas.

Also, the company is actively seeking qualified multi-unit and single-unit operators to help grow the brand in Southern California, the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and South Florida, as well as select cities in Texas and other regions across the nation.

"CiCi's is passionate about exceeding guests' expectations, and these new programs allow us to apply that same commitment of tremendous service and support to our franchise candidates," said CiCi's Pizza Chief Development Officer Bill Spae. "This approach is key as we strengthen our presence in the new markets we entered last year while continually improving our offering to support mature market growth."

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