Pacific Northwest heatwave chilled Papa Murphy’s sales
The heatwave in the Pacific Northwest has cooled Papa Murphy’s.
The take-out pizza chain, based in Vancouver, Washington, and with a strong presence in the Northwest, has seen its sales momentum slow recently amid unprecedented heat in its largest markets. That is, at least, according to parent company MTY Global.
“With the massive heat wave that we have experienced in the Pacific Northwest, we have suffered a bit from our pizza offering,” MTY CEO Eric Lefebvre told investors on Friday, according to a transcript posted on the Sentieo financial services site. “We are still above 2019, but we have lost some momentum compared to 2020 since the end of the quarter. “
Papa Murphy’s has been on a roll lately. Although MTY does not release specific sales figures, the channel’s system sales grew 6.5% in 2020 despite the pandemic and the shutdown of more than 2% of the concept’s U.S. sites, according to Catering company sister company Technomic.
This performance helped Montreal-based MTY overcome restaurant closures in shopping malls in its home country, Canada. The company owns dozens of restaurant brands, many of which are common in shopping mall food courts and business centers that remain closed this year.
MTY lost some 38,000 business days in the second quarter, which, while an improvement over the first quarter, remains a big challenge for the company.
Papa Murphy’s, however, fared well with another great American concept owned by MTY, Cold Stone. The concepts “continued to work extremely well” during the second quarter, Lefebvre said.
Cold Stone, which operates 1,300 sites, is up “double digits” from 2019 and 2020 levels.
At Papa Murphy’s of 1,300 units, sales remained “very strong” during the same period in 2020, when the chain recorded strong sales as consumers ordered more pizzas during the pandemic. And its sales were “very, very strong” in 2019.
One of the company’s top performing products was a Fritos Outlaw pizza, which includes brisket, garlic sauce, frits, barbecue sauce, and onions. This pizza drew “a lot of attention” and “was huge for us,” Lefebvre said.
Kim McBee, senior vice president of customer experience and brand marketing, said in an interview that this is the type of pizza the takeout chain can do better than others because Fritos remain crisp. “It’s hard for some of the pizza makers to do that because the Fritos might not hold up,” she said.
While the heatwave was a problem, Lefebvre said that “we are convinced that we will find a better dynamic”.
Papa Murphy’s, which has unveiled a new prototype, has invested heavily in marketing and technology to improve its business. These investments “are really paying off,” said Lefebvre.
“There are a number of things that we are doing now that are really paying off and giving me a lot of hope that we will continue to grow the brand in the future,” he said.