BC-Based Freshslice Pizza Plans Aggressive Cross-Canada Expansion

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The unique Freshslice Pizza concept, with its base in British Columbia, is aggressively expanding its brand as it looks to grow across the country and the United States.

The company currently has 74 locations in British Columbia and one in Calgary with another Calgary location opening soon. The company has plans to open 120 locations across Alberta over the next 10 years and 200 in Ontario during that same period.

“As we grow across the country and expand into the United States, the choice of Alberta first, and specifically Calgary, strategically made the most sense. The economic climate, coupled with the marketing environment, is ideal for our brand. We know customers will love our multi-grain dough and low-fat mozzarella cheese. We offer a healthy product presented at a price that will offer Albertans an unparalleled value versus any competitor,” said Ray Russell, Founder and CEO of Freshslice Pizza.

The company opened its first location in 1999 on Davies Street in Vancouver. Anyone interested in becoming part of the Freshslice growth plans can contact albertafranchising@freshslice.com.

“We primarily operate in the quick service restaurant space. We feature pizzas but our business model is a little bit different than every other pizza chain in that we focus on quick service pizza by the slice,” said Tom Horler, Vice-President of Marketing and Legal Affairs. “So you come into a Freshslice location and there is a variety of different pizzas that are on display in a temperature controlled and humidified controlled display case.

EXTERIOR SHOT OF FRESHSLICE PIZZA IN VANCOUVER. PHOTO: FRESHSLICE PIZZA

“Depending on the time of day there could be six to eight pizzas on display which you can choose one, two or as many slices as you like. You can mix and match your own pizza and complement that with a beverage or dessert.”

Horler said about 70 percent of customers come into the restaurant and choose a slice or order a whole pizza which is cooked fresh for them. Delivery and pickup is about 30 percent.

“Our business model is quite different than the typical pizza restaurant where they focus primarily on delivery. We do both.”

Horler said the typical restaurant size is about 780 square feet with about four to 10 chairs for people.

“We’ve really fine-tuned our model and we’re ready to take off right across the country,” he said. “We’re focusing primarily with our first partner in Alberta and then from a corporate perspective we’re starting to expand in Ontario. We also plan on opening up Manitoba and Saskatchewan hopefully before the end of the year and then we’re going to head down south where we have plans to open up in Washington and in Oregon next year.”

FRESHSLICE PIZZA PLANS AGGRESSIVE CANADIAN EXPANSION FOR THE REMAINDER OF 2020

Four new locations will be added by the end of this year. The company expects to expand by 25 stores in 2020-21.

“I would say by 2022 we would add a total amount of new stores by 30,” he said.

Jamie Cooper, Vice-President, Ontario, said the company will expand to the Ontario market with its first store in September in Toronto. Cooper said the Ontario locations will be about 1,000 square feet with seating to accommodate 16 people.

He said the plan is to expand to 200 locations within 10 years in Ontario.

“We’ve got a value proposition that kicks the s..t out of our competition . . . Because we have a royalty structure, we don’t make any markup on any product outside of the dough that we sell. It allows us to put much more product onto the pizza at similar food costs to our competition. It’s a pretty disruptive model. It’s very value orientated to the market and we should thrive in both good and recessionary times,” said Cooper.

Horler said one of the aspects that allows the company to grow at a better clip than most is the fact it doesn’t charge royalties and it doesn’t charge advertising fees.

“So our retained earnings per retail dollar amount are significantly higher than our competition as a result. It provides more franchisees with a lower cost model all the way around. It drives better value than our competition can do at the consumer level. Significantly,” added Horler.

FRESHSLICE FOCUSED ON CALGARY FIRST WITH SECOND LOCATION COMING SOON

In the Calgary area, the first location opened earlier this year in the CrossIron Mills shopping centre in Rocky View County which is just north of the city limits. The second location will open this month in the East Village neighbourhood which is just behind Calgary’s City Hall in the downtown core. It will be part of the main retail level of the new 5th & 3rd mixed-used development.

“We are looking at a really aggressive approach over the next 10 years of about 120 locations,” said Lorna Edwards, Director of Development for Alberta. “This location that we’re opening up in the East Village will be part of that and it follows closely on our opening earlier this year at the CrossIron Mills mall.

“We chose a real premier location to launch the brand here in Alberta to really kind of showcase the strengths of the features. The East Village location is going to be followed by one additional one in Calgary that we’ll be announcing in the next couple of weeks. And we’ve just finalized on a location up in Edmonton.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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