Toppers CEO: Big pizza chains have lost identity, brand connection

July 24, 2013

Wisconsin-based Toppers Pizza reported a 7.7 percent same-store sales increase in the second quarter. This comes on the heels of its 13.59 percent increase in Q1.

The 50-unit chain is up 30.13 percent in system-wide sales, including a 23.81 increase in Q2. This mark sets the brand up for its sixth straight year of 20 percent or more increases in system-wide sales growth.

"We are continuing to differentiate ourselves in the pizza segment by placing a primary emphasis on developing strong relationships with our customers. To stand out, we push ourselves to market and service at a higher level, focusing our attention on freshness, quality and speedy service," said Scott Iversen, vice president of Marketing. "The successes we have been able to accomplish with our customers correlate directly to our positive sales performance and increased interest from multi-unit franchise operators."

In Q1, Toppers released an edit to its already robust earnings claim, with company-owned units averaging $889,086 in gross sales per year with $143,519 net. This disclosure helped the brand award 11 new locations in the first half of 2013.

"It is well proven that our concept resonates in the market and our system works for franchisees. Momentum is king and we have momentum," said Scott Gittrich, founder and CEO. "Our aggressive media behavior, innovative social media techniques, killer operations and continued franchise growth all contributed to an impressive first half of 2013. Our collaboration as a system and the relentless commitment from our leadership team have positioned us for a very strong 2013 and beyond."

Also during the first half of the year, Toppers revitalized its menu. According to a news release, the company is targeting millennials with "eclectic and unique menu items." As a result, 70 percent of the company's sales come from brand-specific items such as its signature Topperstix.

Toppers forecasts more growth during the second half of 2013 with plans to build a larger presence throughout Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois with the first location in Arkansas set for Q3 of 2013. Toppers recently signed an area development agreement for Chicago and are planning to build 15 locations throughout the nation by year-end. Additionally, the brand aims to reach 150 locations by the end of 2015 and 500 by 2020 primarily through the focused support of multi-unit operators.

"The reason for our success is simple. Customers desire an alternative to the Walmarts of our industry, and we meet that need. The big chains have lost their identity and brand connection," Gittrich said. "Our customers are fanatical about our brand. Our quirkiness and edginess have given our brand character and enabled our sales to continue soaring and our system to keep reaching new heights."

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Topics: Franchising & Growth , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Operations Management

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