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Domino’s takes on burger chains

Domino's PizzaDomino’s Pizza Enterprises CEO and managing director, Don Meij, says pizza has been getting a bad rap for too long, and burger eating Australians should consider his new healthy menu when next ordering takeway.

Maple cured rasher bacon, slow cooked lamb and cherry wood smoked leg ham are some of the premium toppings Domino’s will start using from September 19 as part of its biggest menu shake-up since 2009.

“This is all about challenging consumers to think about what pizza can be and to realise they can do more pizza occasions,” Meij told AAP. “People are eating a lot more hamburgers than they are pizzas.

“As we take pizza to a more premium, more tasty and healthier product, it will be more modern and take on fried chicken and hamburgers.”

Domino’s has also expanded its range of side dishes and desserts, adding Korean spiced sticky chicken wings, cheese croquettes and caramel fudge pie.

The country’s dominant pizza chain is striving for a bigger slice of the $20 billion fast food sector in Australia and New Zealand, taking on dominant players McDonald’s, KFC and Subway.

Meij plans to double the company’s Australian and New Zealand underlying sales to $2 billion over the next five to six years, with faster delivery and better quality food at the centre of its strategy.

“For the past few years, fast food companies have been homogenising, plasticising and to some extent, dehumanising food, where it’s just something that is mass manufactured and what we consider to be ‘grey’ food,” said Meij.

Domino’s is working with its suppliers to be 100 per cent artificial preservative free within the next six to nine months. Instead of a nitrate, he said another vegetable product was used in its pizzas’ ham and bacon.

“We are obsessed with making sure we have natural replacements,” he said. “In many parts of the world, like Japan, this stuff already exists because it is mandated, so this is not a new science to go all natural.”

Domino’s is looking to add at least 2500 new cooks and delivery staff to handle the expected acceleration in sales.

“We are already handling extraordinary growth and adding this big menu will take it to a new level,” Meij said.

Domino’s’ same store sales in Australia rose 14.8 per cent in the 12 months to July 3, driving net profit growth of 29 per cent to $82.4 million. Its menu upgrade comes as rival Pizza Hut is set for its own revamp after three former McDonald’s executives and a Sydney-based private equity firm bought the fast food retailer from its US parent company Yum! Brands.

The new owners want to strengthen Australia’s second largest pizza franchise and revive the group’s innovative legacy. Meij said he welcomed the development, as competition will only make the market stronger.

There has been speculation that the private equity group involved, Allegro, is also interested in Eagle Boys, which went up for sale after going into voluntary administration in July. Meij said Domino’s remains interested in acquiring Eagle Boys.

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