US pizza giant to open 100 GCC restaurants

Papa Murphy’s marks first international expansion with novel approach to fastfood

Ken Calwell, the CEO of Papa Murphy's.

Ken Calwell, the CEO of Papa Murphy's.

US pizza chain Papa Murphy’s will open 100 of its restaurants across the GCC, the company’s CEO told Arabian Business.

Papa Murphy’s, which specialises in fresh pizzas that the customer then cooks themselves at home, will stagger the outlet openings over the next ten years, Ken Calwell said. It has signed a franchise agreement with Dubai-based Mamfoodco.

“Just with Mamfoodco we’re planning on putting in 100 stores in the next ten years across the GCC. We’re thinking about half of that in the UAE. It will probably be just five stores this year alone,” Calwell said.

Washington-based Papa Murphy’s has more than 1,300 restaurants across the US and Canada and is anticipating revenues of around $800m this year, according to Calwell.

Its expansion into the Middle East, starting with two restaurants in Dubai, marks the firm’s first international foray. “We chose the Middle East and specifically Dubai because of the very business-friendly environment here,” Calwell said. “What I’ve seen and researched on Dubai, it’s that people from all over the world live here, so it’s one of those places where you can get a lot of experience very quickly with a very diverse audience.”

Calwell said that Papa Murphy’s will occupy a niche in the Middle East fast food segment, offering a healthier alternative to larger rivals including Pizza Hunt and Dominos. All of the ingredients are prepared by hand on premises and the chain also offers a lower calorie range.

The UAE’s fast casual dining sector is expected to grow from $6.4bn in 2011 to $8.7bn by 2015 with burger chains set to see the biggest increase, according to research firm Euromonitor.

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