When the FIFA World Cup kicked off last week, Domino boss Elias Diaz Sese was backing his native Spain. But today the Madridista seems more than a little upset.
The 49-year-old, who moved to London in 2016, has now seen first-hand the effect a series of games in England have on order numbers – notably on Friday night, when the chain’s phones delivery were almost as hot as his freshly made pizza.
“My heart is divided during this World Cup. I encourage England and Spain to be in the final”, he admits, trying to reconcile his national pride, his adopted country and his business instinct.
Target: Elias Diaz Sese wants Domino’s to have a big share of the takeaway market during the World Cup
Domino’s is by far the biggest pizza delivery company in Britain.
Diaz says channel bosses have been preparing “all year” for the tournament.
They had seen sales explode in last year’s delayed Euro 2020 competition, in which England lost in the final to Italy. In a group stage match between England and Scotland, Domino’s was selling 13 pizzas per second.
Diaz, who took over as interim chief executive of the £1.5billion-grossing company just last month, hopes demand via this latest tournament will hit records.
Winter – an unusual time for the FIFA World Cup which normally takes place in summer – is already the busiest time of year for Domino’s, as families huddle indoors with hot food to take away instead than venturing out into the cold.
Also, uncharacteristically, many beleaguered football fans are expected to avoid the pub and watch from home, as cost-of-living pressures mean some households are saving cash for Christmas.
Anticipating increased demand, Domino’s has hired an additional 10,000 people in the past two months with jobs for delivery drivers, store staff and pizza restaurants up for grabs.
This brought the number of employees at Domino’s 1,188 restaurants to 35,000.
“We knew it was going to be big, but it’s certainly been much better than expected,” Diaz said after reflecting on the “incredible” demand the company has enjoyed on game days last week.
In Friday’s match against the United States, Domino’s had its best day this year – with 21 orders processed every second and 147,877 pizzas cooked. Diaz says next Tuesday’s game between England and Wales, where he has 62 stores, will be another lucrative event.
It’s a “very good start”, says Diaz, who now hopes England and Wales will qualify for the knockout stage.
But while Domino’s experiences its busiest weeks of the year during the World Cup and over the Christmas period, there are fears of a downturn in the new year.
The UK is facing its biggest drop in living standards on record as the rising cost of living eats away at people’s wages.
The Office for Budget Responsibility said household incomes will fall 7% by 2024. And Domino’s, like other food companies, is grappling with soaring bills, from food to energy through salaries. In a worrying sign, delivery chain orders in the third quarter of 2022 fell 1.9% to 16.9 million. But, despite the headwinds, he reiterated a full-year forecast that profit would be between £125m and £135m.
Diaz, with 25 years of experience in the food and restaurant industry, says the bleak outlook for businesses and consumers is “obviously a real concern”. But he insists Domino’s credentials would help him weather an economic crisis. “We understand the cost of living crisis,” he says.
He wants to be “aware and empathetic” to struggling families who have limits on their purchasing power. He adds that although the company has faced an “intense” year of rising costs, its long-term relationships with suppliers have helped offset the pressure and limit price increases. Diaz took the interim top job when former boss Dominic Paul announced he was leaving to lead Premier Inn owner Whitbread.
Paul, who ran Costa Coffee during his Whitbread ownership and before the cafe chain was sold to CocaCola, led Domino’s Pizza Group throughout the Covid crisis.
Diaz first joined the group’s board in 2019 and has a stake in the company worth around £2.8million. He took the helm less than a year after the company resolved a longstanding dispute with its franchise partners, paving the way for an acceleration in new store openings.
His previous roles include a two-year stint as president of the Northern European branch of Kraft Heinz and managing director of Canadian coffee giant Tim Hortons.
Her two younger sons live at home in London while her 19-year-old ‘princess’ stole the nest for college.
He says it has been “an honor and a pleasure” to have had the chance to hold the top job. Investors are hoping his sense of optimism will endure which could be difficult to trade once football and party fever die down.
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