Dominos bows out of Italy after failing to impress the home of pizza

The American conglomerate’s topping options such as cheeseburger and BBQ chicken fail to cut it in Italy

It turns out that Italians don’t necessarily like pineapple on their pizza, after all. Or at least not enough to keep nearly three dozen Domino’s Pizza franchises afloat.

Last month, the Italian outlets of the American pizza conglomerate extinguished their pizza ovens, unable to win over picky palates in the place where pizza was invented.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday and court documents show that Domino’s Italian franchise had “sought protection from creditors” earlier this year “after running out of cash and falling behind on its debt obligations”.

Bloomberg said the company had €10.6 million of debt at the end of 2020.

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The closure ended an ambitious business venture that had aimed to tantalise Italians looking to try something new, such cheeseburger pizza or BBQ chicken pizza.

Domino’s Pizza Italia opened its first outlet in Milan in 2015, via a franchising agreement with a local company, ePizza.

In a legal filing in Milan in April, lawyers for ePizza said that the company had been optimistic about entering the Italian market in 2015, “the second largest market in the world” of pizza eaters, after the United States. At the time, too, Italy didn’t have a structured, large-scale, home delivery model like the Domino’s Pizza model.

Two years ago, media reports relayed the Italian company’s plans to open 850 stores over the next decade, with the aim of claiming a 2 per cent stake of the national pizza market.

By 2021, 34 restaurants bore the Domino’s brand. And a representative for Domino’s Pizza Italia had cheered the opening of the fifth restaurant in Rome, suggesting that Italians had been open to American-style pizza.

But the coronavirus pandemic changed everything.

With restaurants and bars closed for long stretches of time during sundry lockdowns, many began to adopt the takeout and home delivery model that Domino’s Pizza had sought to dominate Italy with. The proliferation of food delivery platforms like Deliveroo, Glovo or Just Eat “have notably increased the competition” for ePizza, according to the April legal filing in Milan.

Representatives for ePizza and Domino’s Pizza in the United States and in Italy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

— This article originally appeared in The New York Times.