MOD Pizza continued its growth streak in 2019, increasing systemwide sales 24% year over year to reach $493 million, the company said Tuesday.
The growth follows a period in which the fast-casual pizza chain was the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country two-years running, according to Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 200 research, with year-over-year sales growth of 44.7% growth in 2018 and 80% in 2017.
Co-founder Scott Svenson said MOD Pizza has big plans for further expansion, noting that its slowing growth rate is a reflection of the company’s size, not its potential.
“We are going to continue to grow at a very fast rate but once you get to a certain scale, the percentages come down just because the numbers get larger,” Svenson said.
“We have a very long runway ahead of us,” he added.
The Bellevue, Wash.-based pizza chain opened 64 stores in 2019 to end the year with 468 locations, including one in Langford, British Columbia, in December, its first store outside the U.S.
MOD Rewards, the brand’s loyalty program, reached over 1 million members during expansion while digital sales increased 135% year-over-year. Svenson said that growth came without a marketing push, calling it “organic pull” from customers.
Digital sales were also helped by the brand’s launch late last summer of national delivery with DoorDash.
“[Digital] has gone from being a relatively small part of our business, to being a meaningful and growing part of the business and I really don’t see an end in sight,” Svenson said
Svenson said the company is also doubling down on its focus on employees, a people-first approach that has been part of the company’s mission since Scott Svenson and his wife Ally Svenson co-founded the brand in 2008.
In 2019, the MOD Pizza workforce grew by 25% to total 10,000 employees, 30% to 40% of whom are “impact hires,” or those that might otherwise face barriers to employment, according to Scott Svenson. The company has identified three special interest groups for future hires: the formerly incarcerated, low-income youth ages 16-24 who aren’t employed or in school, and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
MOD also wants to “improve the journey for our general managers so they stay with us for a very long time,” said Svenson. “That is our number one priority and that addresses a lot of the other things like operational enhancements as well as social impact.”
Currently, MOD Pizza’s general manager turnover is around 30%, a figure that Svenson would like to get lower.
“How do we make it easier for our teams to execute in this world where a much larger percent of our world is going digital?” Svenson said. “How do we help them make it easier, more efficient, quicker and more enjoyable so that our squads have a better journey?”
In May of 2019, MOD Pizza raised $160 million in equity financing from investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which combined with other earlier rounds brought MOD’s total funding to $339 million, according to the company.
At the time of the deal, MOD set a target to open more than 500 restaurants over the next five year, more than doubling its unit count to 1,000 locations.
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