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New Chief at New Orleans

The Ontario-based pizza company is growing


February 29, 2008
By Cam Wood

Andy Vivian is looking a little pensive. And who can
blame him. Having just finished the acquisition of the New Orleans
franchise, he’s got a lot on his mind.

neworleansAndy Vivian is looking a little pensive. And who can blame him. Having just finished the acquisition of the New Orleans franchise, he’s got a lot on his mind.

Vivian and John Cossey started a 12-year partnership in 1995 when Vivian purchased 50 per cent of New Orleans Pizza Canada Inc. He had previously been with pizza giant Domino’s Pizza International, where he was responsible for setting up distribution centres for the American chain throughout the world.

In September, Cossey sold his shares in the business to his partner so that he could pursue some other interests.

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And now it’s up to Vivian to take the Ontario pizza chain to higher levels. “John is still involved in the business,” says Vivian. “Just in a different role.”

  The objective, says the new owner and president, is to grow from the current 72 stores to 100.

He made short work of that, when just days following his acquisition announcement, New Orleans released the news that it had purchased the Sudbury-based Pizza Gallery chain. Pizza Gallery was founded in 2002 by the Collin family and had grown to eight franchise restaurants in Sudbury, North Bay and Belleville.

“And we are going to be moving into other provinces. We’ve already entered into a deal to do that,” says Vivian. The challenge, he agrees, is the highly competitive market; and not just for the slice of the pizza business. There are a lot of brands wanting to be competitive, with non-traditional food outlets getting into areas that were not part of their strategies in the recent past.

“The key to our success will be the ability of our partners to be profitable,” says Vivian. “The number 1 issue in small business is ‘Am I making any money, or how do I make more money with the tools I have?”
Vivian sees New Orleans’ flexibility in market size as one of its core strengths.

“We can go from a town of 2,000 people to a city. We’ve adapted our concept to be able to do that.”
Jeff Murdoch, the man behind franchise development at New Orleans, says the opportunities to penetrate and succeed in the bigger markets are strong for New Orleans. Their commitment to recruiting “the right fit” for franchisees helps maintain the need for everyone to buy into the corporate culture.

Murdoch recommends potential franchisees do their homework – particularly when the large demographics may cloud good judgment.

“You really need to check out the fees, the royalties, promotional costs,” he says. “What drew me to New Orleans was the low cost of doing business … and you look at the people in the head office and the experience they bring to the pizza industry.

However, like the rest of the industry, Vivian is also very realistic when it comes to the difficulties of operating a foodservice business. The shortage of labour continued to challenge the owners and operators.
“Whether in our pizzerias, or anyone else’s … the number 1 challenge is people: recruiting them and retaining them.”

In October 2007, the New Orleans Pizza Canada Inc. administration offices moved from Stratford to St. Marys, Ont., which also houses the New Orleans Pizza distribution centre and manufacturing facility where the chain’s, “Smart Dough” is custom produced and shipped out to the franchise locations.

“We developed a crust formula that has a higher nutritional value,” adds Vivian. The “Smart Dough” was rolled out enterprise-wide in the summer of 2007. New Orleans Pizza Canada Inc. started in 1978 and will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. •