Opening an NY slice shop in New Zealand, looking for consult

Hi all,

I am looking to open a New York pizza slice store in my home town of Christchurch, New Zealand. I will try and outline the market, my experience and what I am looking for the best I can.

Christchurch is a city of roughly 400,000 people, that up until a year ago had 0 pizza slice shops, then had one poor quality one opened. The big international pizza chains exist there, as well as what is now a huge chain in NZ, Hell Pizza, which is a gourmet delivery restaurant with amazing controversial marketing.

There are no NY style pizza stores in the city as well as only one store selling by the slice. The whole country is way underdeveloped with respect to pizza slice stores, compared to neighboring Australia where there are many to be found downtown in the major cities. I believe there is a huge gap in the market ready to be exploited by a well-executed store or chain.

I have no experience in the food service industry but I am a professional investor, and for me the only way to go about this will be to have someone who is currently established and successful in a foreign market to assist and guide me in the optimal way to set up the store, the kitchen, recipes, and all the processes involved in getting slices out with maximum efficiency and minimum cost, while maintaing the quality.

I believe that every dollar spent avoiding mistakes and having a good product in the formative stages will both save me dollars in future and allow my sales to grow quickly, especially given the small-town dynamic that a city like Christchurch has, where a new good fast food option will spread like wildfire, I have learnt the hard way that skimping on costs will result in a mediocre business, which is not at all suitable to my endgame.

My endgame being, and let me emphasise that I’m not relying on this but simply mapping out growth potential on the contigency that the first store is successful, I would like to open more stores in other NZ cities, carbon copying the initial model, yet another reason why I don’t want to reinvent the wheel on this one. Better to get someone who actually has a clue what they’re doing!

Terms to be negotiated, which will include a stake in the business. I would like my success to be your success. I am currently in North America and am willing to fly to NY or wherever else to have a face to face meeting, to help you know how serious I am and so that we can gauge each other before going into what will hopefully be a very happy relationship!

All comments and advice are also very much welcome, and I’d love to hear any criticisms of my proposed model.


As an ex-pat owner, I’ve seen the landscape littered with bankrupt and broken dreams of people who thought that NY style pizza will translate to some other country. I’ve never seen it happen yet.

You can develop a new delivery method the get into the hands and mouths of customers, but the product must be localized to the tastes of the culture. Being a pioneer can kill you. Forget NY pizza. Think Kiwi pizza.

The high volume, cheap price model of the US is too hard. No one consumes as much pizza as Americans, so your ratios of customers and repeat business is different.

Pizza slice business in shopping centers (or centres :mrgreen: ) have very high running costs. Someone would have to be extraordinary in cost control and inventory sourcing to make any money. You have to have quite a few open to make any money. Each location makes so little.

If you just want to game investors and financiers out of some money for a year or two, then grab some franchise money, that’s one thing. To make any money in the slice business, the odds of success are long.

If someone held a gun to my head and said I had to open a slice operation, I’d look at partnering with a large chain store (it doesn’t matter what kind of store, it could be electronics, furniture, retail, etc) with high foot traffic that’s looking to have customers linger to shop. They’d be looking for an additional revenue stream and you’d provide the know how and operation. That’s just off the top of my head.

Good luck and be wary of “consultants.”

Being an Aussie pizza owner, having visited Christchurch and most of NZ, have customers previously from there - one who had a successful catering business (destroyed by the earthquakes) I think I can give some sort of insight.
The guy and his wife who owned the catering business have many times said that the food market is vastly different in Christchurch and very difficult to make money. Luckily he had a wedding business with a large period house where they did marriages in the gardens then catered for afterwards so he was flat out all years round until the Feb '11 earthquakes badly damaged his property and the building was demolished.
What I have noticed right through NZ is the low amount of pizza shops. I remember a few years back that Pizza Hut pulled out of NZ and only last year there on the North Island did I see a few new stores re-opening. As you pointed out there is Hell’s Pizza who do controversial advertising (remember the Hitler billboards and the free condom marketing ?) and by all accounts they are the main player in NZ. If the market was bigger/profitable/expandable Hell’s, Dominos and PH would be all over the place with the size of the population so the question has to be asked “why aren’t there more pizza shops than there are now?”
Maybe their research (and all spend a lot on it) has found that Christchurch (or NZ in general) is not a big pizza market. ???
The same goes for all the fast food outlets in NZ with representation far, far lower than Australia.
The old fabled story of the shoe salesman who went to New Guinea and told his boss after a week he was coming home because no-one wore shoes and his replacement who after 3 days told his boss to send more shoes because it’s a great opportunity because no-one wears shoes may be the thing with pizzas in NZ. But with the low numbers of the majors throughout the “Shaky Isles” I think you may find NZ is a unique market for pizzas.
What I have found in my travels is that NZ is vastly different, more conservative and indifferent to change compare to any other place that I have been. A lovely country and people, but also with a low wages (they all come to Australia to work for better wages) and low disposable income and high prices (compared to Australia on a wage to cost ratio). I would think discretionary spending would be far less than a lot of places which would make it difficult to prop up a business especially in the formative months/early years.
I would have to come back to the lack of numbers of the majors in pizza and fast foods and wonder why. If they haven’t done it then there must be some strong compelling reasons why not.
Not knocking your idea or pouring water on it but just taking a realistic backed off look at it from a operator, and tourist perspective of your country.

Hi, I am currently running takeaway shop in Dunedin NZ, you can check it out online, just search for Mamma Mia Pizza Dunedin NZ or just go for “best pizza in Dunedin”. Thi is in general message direct to NZPizza as can not send him private message. But however anyone can have a look, I am generally doing opposite of what majority of you is trying to do: no discounts, no delivery, selling only pizza and food I make, I do not need any employees and shop is profitable even when selling relatively small volumes…Just have a look…

As long as you are in the States, please feel free to give me a call at 800-633-5137 (ext. 165) and I’ll be glad to discuss some of this with you. We are in the Central Time Zone Manhattan, Kansas), and a good time to reach me is early or mid-morning (8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.)
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor