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Marco’s pizza seeking partners for regional rollout

Published:Wednesday | December 4, 2019 | 12:23 AMSteven Jackson/ - Senior Business Reporter

Marco’s Pizza, described as one of the fastest-growing American pizza brands, aims to grow its network in the region by entering five markets, including Jamaica.

The company wants to launch some 50 stores in regional markets in five years. Buoyed by its growth in Puerto Rico and Bahamas, the chain is now looking to enter Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cayman Islands through franchise partnerships.

“Marco’s Pizza has experienced a surprising success in Puerto Rico and we look forward to taking advantage of it by expanding our presence throughout the Caribbean and Latin America,” said Marco’s Development Director Ron Stilwell in a press release on the expansion.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Marco’s Pizza opened its first store in Puerto Rico in 2015 and expects to double its presence in that market to 19 locations by year end. The pizza company founded in 1978 by Italian Pasquale ‘Pat’ Giammarco operates over 900 stores in the US, Puerto Rico and Bahamas.

Jamaica’s pizza market has over 50 medium-sized outlets, comprised mainly of American brands, led by Dominos, which is operated by Wisynco’s Convenient Brands; followed by Pizza Hut, which is operated by Restaurants of Jamaica; and Little Caesars, a franchise held by Restaurant Associates Limited. Little Caesars was the most recent US chain to enter the market in 2016, but a number of local outlets have also popped up in recent years, including Raffaele’s, La Pizzeria, and Pizza Please in Kingston.

However, the latest trend relates to hospitality pizza, in which a number of eateries in resort villas have set up stores or adjusted menus to satisfy the appetite of the bed and breakfast traveller.

In Negril these include Uncle Lees Pizza and Ciao Jamaica; in Ocho Rios they include Pizza King, Delly’s Brick Oven Pizza Restaurant, Michele Pizzeria, and Mongoose Jamaica; in Montego Bay, they include Pizza Truck Express and Pizzeria Brescia Jamaica; and in Treasure Beach, they include B&J Pizza, Mellow Yellow, Jack Sprat Bar and Smurf’s Cafe.

In the 1990s, a number of multi-chain pizza outlets were run by locally owned brands including Swanks, Pepperoni Pizza and Pizza Delite. Those operators lost ground to US franchises, with Shakey’s Pizza being one of the initial chains to enter the market.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com