Karsten Freigang remains loyal to the pizza delivery business. The top manager with former positions at Joey's and later Domino's Germany is now responsible for the German business at New York Pizza. The Dutch market leader is currently pushing into the German market at high speed with the acquisition of three pizza delivery services (Flying Pizza, Pizza Planet and Stückwerk). In an exclusive interview, he talks about the German market and the particularities of integrating existing brands, among other things.
FOOD SERVICE: What are the biggest challenges in the transition from the American or Dutch to the German market, the guest and their demands?
Freigang: The challenges are not as big as you might think. The market in Holland works very similarly to ours in Germany, if you disregard the less developed lunch business, which offers much more potential in Germany than in NL. We have good products, a strong brand, effective marketing and are very well positioned online, so we can attract new guests accordingly. Guests in Germany are open to new things, to diversity and variety in the offer and that is exactly what we will use for us.
Why do you think New York Pizza will be successful in Germany in the face of strong delivery & pizza brand competition?
If you look at a small country like the Netherlands, for example, with a population of only 17 million, the No. 1 and No. 2 hotels there cover the market quite well with almost 600 units. If you were to transfer this to the German market, that would be around 3,000 units. Currently, all the halfway reputable pizza delivery brands don't even cover 1,000 units. Even in comparison and with a view to other international markets, I therefore still see a lot of potential with regard to the market situation in Germany - both in terms of quantity and professionalism. We will focus on our main product, the pizza. We are particularly good at this. We are particularly competent in this area and have built up the relevant knowledge and experience over 30 years. With the claim that our special dough makes the big difference, we also have enough potential to win customers for us in Germany. The unique USP, which is based on the high product quality, will also ensure that the brand is successfully positioned in the market and with customers in Germany.
How should the three acquired brands Flying Pizza, Pizza Planet and Stückwerk be aligned under the common umbrella brand?
We are in no hurry with the integration. The important thing is that customers remain loyal to our partners and successfully go along with the change. The three brands will be integrated very carefully into our New York Pizza system and, in principle, we will continue to manage the brands.
When will the product range be restructured or standardized? With regional specialties?
We want to retain what makes each brand special and what has made it successful. We're going to bring together the best of all worlds, so to speak. We are currently in the middle of the process and will be launching the first test operations at the beginning of January. Regional specialties and successful products and assortments from the New York Pizza world, but also from each brand, will of course play an important role. What has worked well so far, we will not change in the future.
How do you assess the willingness of guests to spend money on delivery pizza and what do you consider to be realistic average receipts?
Delivery pizza has been in vogue for many years. We see this every year, at the latest when Gretel Weiß presents the industry figures. Fortunately, we have a very crisis-proof business. Even in the Corona crisis, Pizza Delivery is one of the big winners. The pandemic has given the whole thing another boost in terms of customer acceptance. The number of new customers has increased significantly as well as the frequency with which a customer orders - in addition, the average receipt is clearly on its way towards 25 euros.
The dough is of special importance for the New York Pizza concept, in addition the Italian-thin like the original variant with special edge. How does your dough & variety philosophy stand out from the competition and does the guest find this USP desirable?
The dough is our secret! That's not just a slogan, we stick to it. We only want to say this much, that at New York Pizza we really do a lot to live up to our high quality standards time and time again. This even goes so far that this carefully matured natural product in the store is only prepared by hand and not by machine. As far as I know, we are the only ones in Germany who position their core product with this USP. And since the USP is actually implemented and lived, I believe that this aspect is important to the customer and therefore also desirable.
Currently, New York Pizza operates 107 units in D? It is said that you want to become the second largest pizza delivery service, this requires more than 110 stores, the number 1 is 345. Which takeover candidates do you or the investors in this country still have their eyes on and what growth targets and plans for 2022/23?
The No. 1 is now at just under 380 stores in Germany... so I'm a little bit prejudiced. There is no real No. 2 yet, in my opinion. There's Call a Pizza with just under 110 stores and a turnover of just over €86m at last count, and then there's Smiley's Pizza, which with just under 70 - significantly fewer - stores, realise just about the same turnover as Call a Pizza. From my perspective, both brands are at least on par. Across all brands - NYP, Flying Pizza, Piecemeal and Pizza Planet - we currently have 109 units and a few stores in the pipeline. I don't want to reveal more than that at this point in time.