Manitoba operators reluctantly raising prices

Myron Love
July 24, 2008
By Myron Love
Manitoba pizza operators are trying to hold the line in the face of rising input costs, but some say that they have been forced to increase prices – with possibly more price increases to come.

raise“We have had to increase prices on our dough products,” says Diane Kiamil, Niakwa Pizza’s office manager. Niakwa Pizza has 12 outlets in Manitoba, most of them in Winnipeg. “There has been some customer reaction, but we tell people that there is nothing we can do about it. We are just hoping that our input costs don’t go any higher.”

Kiamil observes that flour prices seem to be starting to come down.

The same can’t be said for gas prices. While Niakwa Pizza hasn’t as yet added a fuel surcharge, that may soon change, Kiamil says.

Pizza Place owner Steve Logan has also been raising his prices. Pizza Place currently has five outlets in Winnipeg and four in rural Manitoba, including resort areas Clear Lake and Winnipeg Beach.

“Between the higher minimum wage (that was introduced last year) and the increasing cost of food, there’s not much we can do,” Logan says. “We usually look at our pricing once a year. Now we are considering our pricing every three months. We raised prices last in November. We will have to see how things go over the summer.”

Logan notes that he and his managers are monitoring food costs closely.

“Our sales figures so far are about the same as last year,” he notes. “We are seeing more dine-in customers and fewer takeout and delivery orders though.”

As for the rising price of gas, he describes that as akin to going into uncharted waters.

Big Time Pizza has recently added $1 to the cost of each pizza it sells. Delivery charges are also up, notes Jay Benz, the owner/manager of the north Winnipeg franchise.

“We used to offer free delivery,” he says. “We first started charging $1 per delivery to compensate for rising gas prices. Now we are charging $2.25 per delivery.

“So far, we haven’t had any complaints.”

Leo Ho, manager of a Winnipeg Panago Pizza outlet, reports that Panago has also increased its delivery charge. “So far, the increased delivery charges haven’t affected our sales.”

Winnipeg Boston Pizza franchisee Richard Enright notes that he and his staff have focused more on better managing costs and exercising tighter controls.

“Unfortunately, we have had to pass on some of our increased input costs to our customers,” he says.
Enright currently operates eight Boston Pizza outlets in Winnipeg.

“We believe there is the potential for four more Boston Pizza outlets in the city,” he says.

Going against the grain, Pizza Hotline has been able to hold the line against increasing its prices.

“We intend to hold out as long as we can,” says Ron Chan, director of franchise development for the chain, which currently has eight outlets in Winnipeg and one in Winkler, in southern Manitoba.

“We have been focusing on getting our deliveries out a little sooner and improving service.”

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