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Fire and brimstone: Hell Pizza's Ben Cumming

  • News
  • May 13, 2015
  • Jessy Edwards
Fire and brimstone: Hell Pizza's Ben Cumming

Hell hath no fury like a pizza retailer mismanaged.

At the end of 2006, after growing Hell Pizza into a 66-store empire with a cult following and annual revenue of about $55m, owners Stuart McMullin, Warren Powell and Callum Davies made the mistake of selling.

The new owners - Burger King New Zealand franchisee holder TPF - just “didn’t get it.” After three years the trio bought Hell Pizza back, with a few dinks in its brand armour.

The Hell brand has always been about quality pizza and that wasn’t maintained, Hell general manager Ben Cumming says.

“When TPF bought Hell they brought in a corporate team to try and run the brand, but they just didn’t get it, so things all went pear shaped… The Hell brand eroded when TPF owned it.”

Six years on, Hell is pegged to hit 66 stores again. It’s an auspicious number for the demonic retailer, Cumming says.

Sales are at record highs. In 2014 Hell recorded sales 8.6 percent higher than 2013 in same-store-growth, and with a series of smart marketing campaigns, Hell managed to beat its weekly sales record three times.

“We did it with the Wild Rabbit [rabbit pizza] and we did it with the Angry Dragon [sadistically spicy pizza] and then we did it when we launched fireworks delivery with our Halloween special,” Cumming explains.

But Cumming says the best marketing in the world can be all for nothing if the in-store experience isn’t up to par.

“You can have a great idea but if customers come into a store and it’s crap then it’s all over, and next time you do something people aren’t interested.”

He says the biggest innovation Hell implemented in 2014 was incentivising its franchisees to excel through a marketing fee rebate for the best performers.

Prior to this, the franchisees were bound to follow instructions, but there was little recourse if they didn’t, apart from punishment. It was an unpopular strategy for obvious reasons.

“So we flipped it and said why don’t we reward those who get involved in their communities and execute campaigns to a really high standard?”

Cumming says it has completely changed the atmosphere in the brand.

While the recovery from being owned by the big, bad fast-food giant TPF is still underway, the company is well on track with steps like these, Cumming says.

“We’re still recovering form the dark ages when TPF took over the business, but with every good experience a customer has, the brand value comes back in.”

This story was originally published in NZRetail magazine issue 736, March 2015.

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Hemp products go beyond the specialty shelves

  • News
  • March 25, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Hemp products go beyond the specialty shelves

Since hemp seeds’ legalisation for growing, manufacture and sale in November 2018, supermarkets have quickly pivoted to include hemp products such as protein powder in their health food and specialty sections, but the trendy ingredient has already found its way into mainstream product categories.

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No longer just for hippies: Is hemp the next coconut oil?

  • News
  • March 25, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
No longer just for hippies: Is hemp the next coconut oil?

The Naturally Good Expo, held over June 2 – 3 in Sydney, will bring retailers, brands and practitioners together to learn about all things healthy, organic and natural. Among the topics discussed by industry leaders at the expo is the recent legalisation of hemp – it’s popping up everywhere. We asked John Leith of supplier Hemp Oz and speaker Susan Tapper of Holistic Marketing Healthy Sales for more information about this exciting new product category.

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Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

  • News
  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register team
Military-style semi-automatics ban announced

As of 3pm on March 21, a wide range of semi-automatic weapons have been reclassified under section 74A(c) of the Arms Act as requiring an E endorsement on a firearms license. This means they can no longer be sold to those with A-category gun licenses, and their purchase now requires police approval.

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  • March 21, 2019
  • The Register
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  • News
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  • Kelly Withers
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  • News
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  • Radio New Zealand
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