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Coals to Newcastle
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Coals to Newcastle

How could a product designed for the American market compete with the mum-and-dad pizzerias that had served Italians over decades?

Andrew J. Linn

Malaga

Friday, 5 January 2024, 18:12

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When a US pizza delivery chain decided to set up operations in Italy, there was criticism and even hostility. How could a product designed for the American market compete with the mum-and-dad pizzerias that had served Italians over decades? But Domino's was no ordinary pizza chain. It had become a world leader with 200 locations internationally, prominent for its rapid delivery times and generous toppings.

The first Italian operation was set up in 2015 with great expectations, eyes wide open and sensible adjustments to its formulae. These included a longer-matured base and authentic Italian ingredients, featuring Fior di Latte mozzarella, raw Parma ham, and Parmigiano Reggiano, or alternatively Pancetta Piacentina and Pecorino Romano DOP.

Nevertheless, the Italian menu also featured the stateside mainstays, including the American Party Pie, topped with french fries. In five years, it had 29 locations across the country and was planning to add another 850 in a decade. This never happened. The pandemic opened the door for platforms like Deliveroo and Just Eat to enter Italy and Domino's never got its chance to demonstrate what had made it so successful in other countries.

In April 2022 the Italian franchise operator filed for bankruptcy. "Domino's tried selling pizzas to Italians. They didn't like it." "Italians shrug as Domino's closes stores," said Reuters. One resident was quoted as saying, "Maybe an American pizza chain would have made sense for tourists, but for Italians, it's pointless. It's like me going to England to sell fish and chips."

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