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SA Franchise Brands welcomes Tyrone Herdman-Grant, Chief Operating Officer for Panarottis Pizza Pasta.


What has been paramount to Panarottis Pizza Pasta’s success?

Fundamentally, at the heart of it, we have upped our game on various levels significantly. We’ve migrated to a new look and have revamped most of our stores – this undertaking is almost 80% complete. A part of this revamp has seen us roll out larger and new kids’ play areas – this is but one of the things we’ve done to stay true to our strapline “Big on Family”.

This restructuring exercise has not only been with regard to our facilities – we’ve done so financially as well. And it has certainly not been top-down – we have the buy-in of our franchisees towards our common mission, so that as franchisor and franchisees we tug in the same direction. Supporting our franchisees is important to us; to this end, we have also restructured our operational team to give franchisees the specialised support they need at store level.

Key to our expanded offerings has been the introduction of our hugely popular breakfasts, and key to our quality offering has been improving the quality of core Italian products that we import, such as flour and pasta. Our TV and radio advertising has helped to communicate this and in general we’ve seen wonderful ROI from these above-the-line advertising channels.


What challenges do you face at present?

Giving the sliding SA economy, food inflation is a worry. We cannot simply increase prices to keep pace with inflation; this would mean we out-price ourselves. A corollary is the weak Rand, Dollar and Euro exchange rate which weighs heavily on the cost of our imported products. The worldwide milk shortage and Mozzarella price increase thrown into this bag of differentials also does not help.

At franchisee level, the challenges are franchisees with limited gearing and/or insufficient funds. Some landlords charge unrealistic rentals.


With a network of more than 60 franchises nationwide, how has your franchise model worked in favour of the group?

Extremely well! We currently have 68 stores in SA. Having a national footprint helps as it means our TV ad marketing spend is highly effective – our rate card share of voice in the pizza sit-down marketing environment is 77%. Our vast network of franchisees and landlords also means we are first to hear when new sites are available.

The franchisee model makes it easier to facilitate learning and growth as it’s easy to gauge which new ideas are working the best.


What are some of the attributes required from franchisees?

Owning a restaurant is not a career – it is a lifestyle. Being passionate, hardworking, able to communicate effectively and work well with people, along with being a great leader and having a hearty love of food, go a long way!


How would you describe the overall relationship between the group and its franchisees?

We are fortunate to have an excellent, results-driven working relationship with our franchisees. Within any large family there are of course times when there may be disagreements or dissent, but we have always been able to harness the power of our strong synergy with franchisees for the common good of the brand. Indeed, our phenomenal continued growth is a testimony to our solid relationship with our franchisees.


What kind of training and support can franchisees expect?

We have a 360-degree training department – you will be intensely trained on anything and everything from complaint handling to management development. You name it, we have the training systems for it.

Our operational team is robust and extremely interactive with franchisees. Amongst other things, we help our franchisees with financial reviews, strategies, marketing plans, training and product and service workshops.


Which factors are paramount for sustained future growth within the group with specific reference to its present and future franchisees?

The factors we constantly look at in this regard are controlling labour costs, energy consumption and cost of sales; reducing set-up costs; growing our national and international footprint; restructuring, re-invigorating and updating menu offerings. Generally, we’re always on the lookout for ways to refine our business model.


Where to from here and into the future?

Our brand has grown phenomenally – and we don’t intend to take our foot off the pedal. We’d like to have 100 stores worldwide – currently, we have 79. We want to launch our Panarottis Rewards Programme and build on our existing solid base – this includes our focus on operations.
The overall vision is to be the first choice in the Pizza and Family market.

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