Papa Murphy’s pizza prowess - East Valley Tribune: Business

Papa Murphy’s pizza prowess

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Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2007 2:00 am | Updated: 6:57 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Papa Murphy’s is hoping for a larger slice of Arizona’s pizza market by expanding its presence by up to 65 stores by 2013.

Representatives of the Vancouver, Wash., company — which sells pizza that consumers bake at home — said the openings will occur in tandem with expansions in several other markets.

About 75 percent of the planned franchise takeout stores will open in the Valley, said Jim Werling, the company’s director of franchise sales.

The company, which entered the Arizona market in 2005, already has 15 locations in the state.

Despite slower industry growth over the last decade and initial consumer resistance to the company’s do-it-yourself niche concept, Papa Murphy’s will do well, industry watchers say.

Werling said the pre-baked concept allows the company to muscle into crowded markets.

“We’ve been able to find a seam within a very robust industry with the take-and-bake concept,” he said.

Mark Hospenthal, owner of two Papa Murphy’s stores in Scottsdale and Phoenix, said many of his customers are converts from other brands.

“It’s a little different for them, but once they give it a try, they pretty much become hooked,” he said.

Jeremy White, editor of Pizza Today magazine, a trade publication, said the industry’s growth has slowed from about 10 percent to 15 percent during the 1990s to about 4 percent to 4.5 percent today.

That’s still pretty impressive in a market that seems saturated at first glance.

“To still be able to pull off 4 percent growth to me is pretty remarkable,” he said.

White said Papa Murphy’s do-it-yourself pizza, which tends to be fresher than other takeout or delivery pizza, gives it an edge in new markets.

Still, the challenge is getting customers to try the pizza, and that’s kept the company from expanding faster than its current rate, White said.

Richard Slawsky, a writer for the online trade journal PizzaMarketplace.com, said the market overall is not doing well as indicated by companies like Domino’s, which has seen its same-store sales decline recently.

But Slawsky said Papa Murphy’s will continue to perform well.

“People are impressed with the product,” he said.

“As long as they can maintain their standards ... then they should do all right.”

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