Domino’s Pizza has pulled out of the Italian market after failing in its mission to conquer the home of pizza.
The US fast food chain’s departure from Italy after seven years followed a period in which the business was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which in turn forced traditional Italian pizzerias to adopt their own delivery services.
The company set out with ambitious plans of opening 880 outlets across the country by 2030, hopeful that it could win over Italian customers with pizza topped with pineapple. It got as far as opening 29 branches, all of which have now been closed.
Franchise holder ePizza filed for bankruptcy in April this year and all outlets stopped delivery services from 20 April, according to the Italian food website Agrodolce, which first reported the story earlier this month.
Domino’s first foray into Italy was in Milan in 2015, before venturing to other cities including Turin, Bologna, Parma and the capital, Rome.
It did not, however, make it to Naples, the southern city where pizza margherita was created.
“It would have been very strange if [Domino’s] had worked here,” said Gino Sorbillo, who owns a pizzeria in in the city. “Naples is a very particular market – it wins on tradition, identity … it wouldn’t have worked if the only goal was to make money.”
Domino’s Pizza was brought to Italy by the entrepreneur Alessandro Lazzaroni. The move followed a similarly brave culinary exploit years earlier when McDonald’s opened its first store in Bolzano in 1985.
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Lazzaroni said at the time that Italians were “very picky about food” but believed “the two great excellences” of Italian quality and American food delivery prowess could come together and be successful.
The Domino’s venture had some initial success but ultimately could not compete, not even on price – given that a pizza in an Italian restaurant can cost as little as €5 (£4.22), on top of the widespread availability of shops serving pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) for even less.
That said, Lazzaroni, an ex-general manager of Burger King in Italy, now works for Crazy Pizza, a restaurant owned by the former Formula One team boss Flavio Briatore on Rome’s plush Via Veneto where a humble margherita costs €15.