Domino’s leaves Italy, where – surprise – diners prefer local pizza

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Who would have guessed that the people of Italy, where pizza is an internationally recognized national treasure, wouldn’t have gone crazy for the over-the-top, mass-produced American riffs on the country’s national dish offered by a multinational chain?

Someone probably should have. Domino’s will no longer offer its specialty cheese, Hawaiian, and bacon and chicken pizzas, after the company that runs the Italian franchises closed all of its locations, according to a Bloomberg News report. The company blamed the drop in demand on consumers’ preference for delivery to mom-and-pop stores and the reopening of restaurants after pandemic shutdowns.

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Italian company ePizza spa became a “master franchisor” for the U.S.-based company in 2015, opening up to 33 locations, according to an investor report, which tracked fourth-quarter 2021 results. But sales were down almost 38% from their projections at the end of the year.

“We attribute the problem to i) the significantly increased level of competition in the food delivery market with both organized chains and ‘mom and pop’ restaurants delivering food to survive and ii) the reopening of restaurants after pandemics and consumers on the go with revenge spending,” the report states.

Adding to its woes, digital orders didn’t seem to be taking hold: despite the company’s business model being ‘strongly focused on cutting-edge digital technologies’, more than half of orders were placed in person or over the phone , according to the report. and app downloads had lagged.

Representatives for Domino’s and ePizza spa did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. Bloomberg and local media also reported that a Milan court this year granted ePizza creditor protection, but it expired on July 1, Bloomberg News said.

As news of the closures spread across US social media, people scoffed at the very idea of ​​the chain’s ambitions (Domino’s reportedly hoped to open up to 800 locations) in the country where pizza is so revered that an organization exists to protect the traditional Neapolitan style and its twirling preparation has earned a place on UNESCO’s ‘intangible heritage’ list.

Tweets included: “Omg can you imagine anyone other than drunken American tourists ordering dominoes in Italy?” and “Trying to open Dominos Pizza in Italy is like trying to sell snow to the North Pole.” Others have noted that pizza from local stores is often cheaper than Domino’s.

The snark was also raging on the other side of the Atlantic. A headline from Italian daily Il Messaggero on Monday concluded that “Italians don’t like pineapple pizza: Domino’s is closing all pizzerias in the country.” The article mentioned the chain’s American-style menu items such as “Pepperoni Passion” and the “Hawaiana”, noting that such fancy concoctions had failed to impress purists. “These products would turn up the noses of mainstream pizza lovers, while intriguing xenophiles,” he wrote.

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Some agreed that Italy’s pizza culture was just too strong for an American foray. “Italy pushes back the invader!” one person tweeted. “Is pizza the last bastion of the Italian? While some defended Domino’s in Italy as superior to the American version, many in the country were thrilled with the chain’s demise. “Domino’s pizza is going bankrupt in Italy,” tweeted another. “I didn’t even know he opened a shop.”

Stefano Pitrelli in Rome contributed to this report.

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