At first glance, the Domino’s Pizza chain might not appear to be the most likely technology innovator. It’s all about the physical preparation and delivery of a food product, after all.
But as IT director for Domino’s Pizza UK and Ireland, Colin Rees explains, technology is regarded as a critical tool for staying ahead of the competition and is fully embedded into the company’s business processes.
Rees has been at the Milton Keynes-based master franchisee of the brand for a year. He replaced Jane Kimberline, an IT boss regarded by the tech community as an agent of change for the company.
When I visited the head office I expected to hear about an IT strategy focused on consolidating the changes that had taken place before, not more innovation.
Happily this assumption was wrong and the pace of change at Domino’s is just as hectic under Rees as his predecessor, if not more so.
Domino’s UK and Ireland group is a franchise operation, with the brand still held by the parent Domino’s Pizza in the US.
The British Isles group also recently acquired the master franchise within Germany to secure the last big market on mainland Europe.
It sub-franchises the brand to around 130 operators in the UK and Ireland, who among themselves will operate 700 stores by the end of this year.
The Domino’s estate is expanding into new areas and one of the highlight openings of the year was the first store in a motorway service station in June.
Alongside this is the online sales operation, which is growing 50 per cent year on year and currently accounts for just over 40 per cent of the company’s revenues.
The unusual structure of the company presents a measure of complexity for Rees. In addition to 325 staff at head office and at the firm’s dough factories, he explains that he effectively has 130 franchisee stakeholders who aren’t shy of calling him up if they have a query about their IT.
“The franchisees are all fiercely entrepreneurial. They all have their own business challenges and they all have their own needs, so it adds a great deal of complexity into managing those business relationships. On the plus side we get lots of really good ideas through that channel too,” says Rees.