Restaurant chain @pizza mulls further fundraising to catalyse growth

A pizza chain that is significantly boosting its presence in Edinburgh says it is highly likely to raise more funds at some stage to heat up its expansion – after its current, oversubscribed crowdfunding campaign closes tomorrow.

The chain is introducing what it says are the UK’s first drive-thru pizza units. Picture: contributed.
The chain is introducing what it says are the UK’s first drive-thru pizza units. Picture: contributed.

@pizza will “almost certainly” raise more cash via crowdfunding following the current round, which has significantly exceeded its £820,000 target, bringing in more than £1 million from 1,200-plus investors, co-founder and chief executive Rupert Lyle told Scotland on Sunday.

The firm already has a branch in Edinburgh’s West End as well as Birmingham, and recently announced that it will open up on the Royal Mile before the end of 2020, while it has a restaurant planned in the Scottish capital’s new St James Quarter. It has also unveiled plans for drive-thru pizza at a major shopping venue in the city.

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The expansion of the chain – which says it offers more than 64,000 topping combinations, with pizzas cooked in 90 seconds – somewhat bucks the trend in a hospitality sector suffering coronavirus-related restrictions among its challenges. “We've got an interesting story, we've got a vision that people can relate to,” venture capital veteran Lyle said.

Expansion of its footprint is likely to be Glasgow in Scotland and Manchester south of the Border before mulling whether to move into London, while during the current crowdfunding campaign it had approaches from all over the world, adds Lyle. In the UK, the chain has been offered many sites formerly occupied by other restaurant chains, he said. “We've got lots of opportunity to choose properties in the right space, and I think that means the market is going to open up for us. To make the most of it we're probably going to have to raise some more money.”

He also stressed the business’ flexible model, including the converting of shipping containers for drive-thrus that are far cheaper to set up than a restaurant. Regarding such facilities, @pizza is talking to supermarket chains, petrol station operators, and convenience store operators, “with hundreds, if not thousands of sites around the UK”.

As for how the business will look in about a year’s time, the aim is to have three or four containers on the ground in strategic places around the UK, with headcount growing from about 20 currently to 60 or 70.

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