STORE SPACES

Pizza chain gets in fast-lane with express concept for c-stores and airports

BY Marianne Wilson

Pizza Inn is looking to expand via a kiosk format focused on non-traditional development.

The nearly 60-year-old fast-casual chain” is launching a new prototype called Pizza Inn Express, or PIE, that is designed to give customers a fast, seamless experience when picking a hot pizza.

Geared towards convenience stores, but also an airport or entertainment venue option, Pizza Inn Express will allow customers to order and pay at a kiosk for grab-and-go or pick up their food at a designated spot. Pizza Inn has a strong presence in the southeastern part of the country where the convenience store segment has the nation’s highest grouping of independent operators. The company expects to have its first prototypes operating within the next 90 days.

“Convenience stores are a $575 billion industry with 70% of sales attributed to in-store purchases,” said Scott Crane, CEO of Pizza Inn parent company, Rave Restaurant Group. “This could be a game-changer for Pizza Inn as we tap into new markets and expansion opportunities for our flagship brand. We’re already seeing great interest from existing and potential franchisees who see this model as a new way to serve customers the same iconic, quality pizza they have come to expect, but in a faster setting.”

Founded in 1958, Pizza Inn is a subsidiary of Dallas-based Rave Restaurant Group, which owns, franchises and supplies more than 300 Pizza Inn and Pie Five restaurants operating domestically and internationally.

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STORE SPACES

Roots in store expansion move

BY CSA STAFF

Canadian apparel retailer Roots Corp. is looking to increase its brick-and-mortar presence outside of its home country.

Roots wants to open 10 to 14 stores in the United States by the end of fiscal 2019, reported the Calgary Herald, and already has four leases signed, including sites in Boston and Washington, D.C. The retailer currently has 120 stores in Canada and four in the United States. It also operates stores in Taiwan and China with local partners.

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STORE SPACES

Luxury home furnishings retailer marching to its own drummer

BY Marianne Wilson

From a paid membership model to opening and building large-format stores (“galleries” in RH speak) to mailing out beautifully detailed catalogs, RH (formerly Restoration Hardware) is going against the prevailing retail winds in almost every way possible. And it appears to be paying off.

Net revenues rose 8% to a better-than-expected $592.5 million for the quarter ended October 28, despite an approximate 1% negative impact from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the company said. Same-store sales increased 6% compared to a 6% decrease last year. Earnings totaled $1.04, in line with analysts’ estimates

“Our third quarter results are beginning to demonstrate the earnings power of our new membership model, and a dramatically more efficient operating platform,” stated chairman and CEO Gary Friedman.

RH launched a membership model in spring 2016, giving customers special benefits and services for an annual fee. In his statement, Friedman said that with 95% of core RH business now generated from members, the move from a promotional to a membership model has been a success. The company currently has approximately 380,000 active RH members, with membership fee income up 37% year-to-date.

The membership program has resulted in other benefits, according to Friedman, including reductions in return, exchange, and cancel rates.

“We believe that membership has eliminated the frantic buying patterns and associated returns, exchanges, and canceled orders that are the result of a chaotic promotional model,” he stated. “We expect these factors to contribute to improved financial performance through higher conversion of demand into revenue, improved margins and lower costs across our operating platform.”

Friedman said the recent openings of RH locations in Toronto and West Palm, Fla., both of which include integrated hospitality offerings (restaurant, wine vault and coffee bar), have been met with an enthusiastic response.

“Our ability to seamlessly integrate food, wine, art and design, activates all of the senses, drives significant traffic into our galleries, and creates a customer experience that cannot be replicated online,” he said.

Friedman noted it has become clear, “given the continued failures of high growth – no profit, online pure plays, that the complexities and costs of scaling a furniture business will favor those who have control of their brand from concept to customer, build an integrated multi-channel platform with a superior logistics network, and offer the customer a compelling physical and digital experience.”

In many ways, RH is out of step with current retail trends, which is fine with its chief executive.

“We do understand that many of the strategies we are pursuing….are all in direct conflict with conventional wisdom and the plans being pursued by many in our industry,” Friedman said. “We believe when you step back and consider; one, we are building a brand with no peer; two, we are creating a customer experience that cannot be replicated online; and three, we have total control of our brand from concept to customer, you realize what we are building is extremely rare in today’s retail landscape, and we would argue, will also prove to be equally valuable.

Friedman said that RH plans to focus on building a superior operating model that will enable it to compete and win over the long-term.

In two previously announced moves, RH completed the previously closure of the Los Angeles facility in November, and expects to close its distribution center in Dallas by fiscal year end, resulting in savings of approximately $15 million annually.

“Moving forward, servicing our business from two coastal distribution centers will result in improved in-stocks, and significantly faster inventory turns,” Friedman said. “The redesign of our reverse logistics and outlet business is now 90% complete, enabling us to liquidate customer returns in market, while driving cost savings and margin enhancement of $15 million to $20 million annually.”

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