By John Lofstock, Editor
It’s a circus atmosphere at eight of Kwik Stop’s 20 convenience stores and it has nothing to do with juggling clowns, a unicycle or the big top.
Instead, what’s entertaining Kwik Stop’s customers at all three dayparts is Piccadilly Circus Pizza, the flagship foodservice brand of Milford, Iowa-based Land Mark Products Inc.
“Piccadilly has been a big boost to our foodservice business because of its quality and value, the two most important ingredients for any fast-food program,” says Dan O’Neill, president of Kwik Stop Stores in North Platte, Neb. “And since they have added breakfast sandwiches to the menu, we have seen a steady stream of customers throughout the day.”
Kwik Stop, which markets Cenex and Sinclair fuels, is so impressed with Piccadilly it intends to double its store count with the pizza brand to 16 by the end of next year as part of an aggressive strategy to build incremental sales with foodservice.
As part of that plan, Kwik Stop has co-branded Piccadilly with Taco John’s Express in a handful of c-stores and also features a proprietary hot deli program anchored with meats supplied by Broaster chicken. The foodservice offering is topped off with Kwik Stop’s in-house Java Express coffee program, which was developed with a roaster in San Francisco. “Having multiple brands in one unit satisfies different appetites,” O’Neill says. “This gives us an opportunity to attract a wide range of customers into the store and then sell them other items like gasoline and tobacco.”
Labor remains an ongoing struggle for convenience retailersand Kwik Stop is not immune. Piccadilly’s most attractive selling point for O’Neill is how labor-friendly the concept is. Items are shipped to stores pre-packaged with toppings so all employees have to do is pop them in the oven and box them.
“Labor is one area where Piccadilly really listened to operators and streamlined prep times,” O’Neill said. “In a lot of franchise situations the brand dictates what you are going to do in areas like food preparation. Piccadilly understands the labor crunch convenience operators are facing and designed a program that meets our needs. This approach has increased revenues and positioned us for overall growth.”
For example, Piccadilly offers an express freezer-to-oven program as an option for c-store owners concerned about finding labor to manage foodservice operations. The program has a low entry cost and is less labor intensive, without sacrificing quality, says Jerry Ryker, Piccadilly’s executive vice president of business development.
Menu items include personal-pan and full-sized pizzas, hot wings, appetizers, breadsticks, biscuits and croissant breakfast sandwiches. Pizzas are offered in four varieties: cheese, pepperoni, sausage and combo, and range in price from $6.99 to $10.99.
Piccadilly’s program is free of franchise fees and ongoing royalties, plus it provides initial training, continuous marketing support and operations analysis at no additional charge. As far as equipment goes, Piccadilly allows marketers to use their existing foodservice equipment if it can handle the volume. It also offers several in-house purchasing and financing options.
“We’re quite flexible and have found many of our customers have some existing equipment that can be used,” Ryker says. “We are happy to accommodate them.”
For stores with no equipment, the investment for Piccadilly’s freezer-to-oven program starts at $7,600. For its bigger, fresh component program the investment starts at $16,000. “We assume in both scenarios that the store has ample frozen storage capability and required dishwashing components,” Ryker adds.
Space requirements are considered on a location-bylocation basis, but typically range from 100 to 200 square feet.
Retailer support is another important component of Piccadilly’s offering. In addition to on-site training, the pizza company provides advertising and marketing support to help local units compete effectively with neighboring branded fastfood chains. Marketing materials include shirts, visors, aprons, boxes, menus, ad slicks and point-of-purchase displays.
Piccadilly, which has operations in more than 800 c-stores, also provides cost control assistance, sales and profit evaluations and waste control analysis by its operations personnel.
“A lot of convenience store operators attempt to create an in-house foodservice program, but they lack the support that comes from a brand representative,” O’Neill says. “A Piccadilly rep visits all of our stores at least once every six weeks and offers a fresh perspective with an objective eye. This keeps us from getting stale.”