When the World Cup kicked off last week, Domino’s boss Elias Diaz Sese hoped for his native Spain. But today the man from Madrid seems more than a little confused.
The 49-year-old, who moved to London in 2016, has now seen firsthand the effect a series of matches in England has on order numbers – particularly on Friday night when the phones at the delivery chain were almost as hot as his own . freshly made pizzas.
My heart is divided at this World Cup. I’m cheering for England and Spain to be in the final,” he confessed, trying to reconcile his national pride, his adopted homeland and his business instincts.
Goal: Elias Diaz Sese wants Domino’s to get a big share of the takeaway market during the World Cup
Domino’s is by far the largest pizza delivery company in Britain.
Diaz says the chain’s bosses have been preparing for the tournament “all year.”
They had seen sales rise during last year’s postponed Euro 2020 competition, which saw England lose to Italy in the final. In a group match between England and Scotland, Domino’s sold 13 pizzas every second.
Diaz, who only took over as interim managing director at the £1.5bn company last month, is hoping demand will break records at this latest tournament.
Winter – an unusual timing for the Football World Cup that normally takes place in the summer – is already the busiest time of year for Domino’s, as families snuggle indoors with warm takeaways rather than venturing outside in the cold.
Unusually, many struggling football fans are also expected to avoid the pub and watch from home, as the cost of living leads some households to save cash for Christmas.
In anticipation of strong demand, Domino’s has hired an additional 10,000 employees in the past two months, with jobs such as delivery driver, shop assistants and pizza chefs up for grabs.
It brought the number of employees in Domino’s 1,188 restaurants to 35,000.
“We knew it was going to be big, but it was definitely much better than expected,” says Diaz after delving into the “incredible” demand the company enjoyed on last week’s race days.
During Friday’s game against the United States, Domino’s had its best day this year – with 21 orders processed every second and 147,877 pizzas baked. Diaz says next Tuesday’s game between England and Wales, where it has 62 stores, will be another lucrative event.
It’s a ‘very good start’, says Diaz, who now hopes that both England and Wales will qualify for the knockout stages.
But while Domino’s is experiencing its busiest weeks of the year during the World Cup and Christmas period, there are fears of a slowdown in the new year.
The UK is facing its biggest drop in living standards ever, as the rising cost of living affects people’s wages.
The Office for Budget Responsibility said household income will fall 7 percent by 2024. And Domino’s, like other food companies, is struggling with skyrocketing bills from food to energy and wages. In a worrying sign, the delivery chain’s orders fell 1.9 percent to 16.9 million in the third quarter of 2022. But despite the headwinds, it reiterated its full-year forecast for profits to be between £125m and £135m.
Diaz, with 25 years of experience in the food and restaurant industry, says the bleak outlook for businesses and consumers is “clearly a major concern.” But he insists Domino’s value credentials would help it weather an economic slump. “We understand the cost-of-living crisis,” he says.
He wants to be “aware and empathetic” to poor families who limit their purchasing power. He adds that while the company has had an “intense” year of rising costs, long-term relationships with suppliers have helped offset the pressure and contain price increases. Diaz took the top job on an interim basis when former boss Dominic Paul announced he was leaving to manage Premier Inn owner Whitbread.
Paul, who ran Costa Coffee during the Whitbread ownership and before the café chain was sold to Coca-Cola, led Domino’s Pizza Group during the Covid crisis.
Diaz first joined the group’s board in 2019 and has a stake in the company worth around £2.8 million. He took over less than a year after the company resolved a long-running dispute with its franchise partners, paving the way for an acceleration in new store openings.
His previous positions include a two-year stint as president of the Northern European arm of Kraft Heinz and CEO of Canadian coffee giant Tim Hortons.
His two younger sons live at home in London, while his 19-year-old ‘princess’ has left the nest to go to college.
He says it has been “an honor and a pleasure” to get a chance at a top job. Investors will hope his sense of optimism holds up in the tough trading ahead once the football and holiday spirit subside.
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