Pizza Capers has now enlisted its 100th franchisee to sell gourmet pizzas, which began well before it became fashionable. It seems that business mimics life for co-owner Scott Geiszler (left), who says his family outgrew their Nerangba home. But unlike his house, he has no plans to sell the rapidly-growing business, which is about to open doors in Malaysia.

WITH self-perpetuating store growth and ‘no need to slow down’, Pizza Capers’ presence on the Gold Coast is a microcosm of where Geiszler wants to take national operations.

“Looking at the Gold Coast numbers we now have 16 stores, which makes us the No.1 pizza chain there and I haven’t done the numbers yet on Brisbane, but we would probably be No.2 or close to No.1 – we hope to replicate that nationwide,” he says.

“We’ve opened up in regional Queensland with stores in Cairns, Townsville, Gladstone, Hervey Bay and we’re about to open in Rocky (Rockhampton), so that’s a focus of ours to get a position on the regional side of our business, but there’s still a bit of work to do with logistics.

“Our focus No.2 is Melbourne and Adelaide and we’re looking potentially at Western Australia as well in the early stages of next year.”

He plans to have 20 stores in Melbourne next year, with a total of 100 areas identified in the city where Pizza Capers could grab a slice of market share.

“We have a couple of stores in Melbourne that are more dine-in, which has been more popular. It’s different to the market in Queensland, where parking can make a huge difference but in Melbourne people don’t mind so much,” says Geiszler.

“Our guy in Singapore is about to open a second store as the first one is going well and it looks like we’ll get a store in Malaysia as well. The chef in me enjoys learning from new cultures of cooking, with a number of new pizzas that have been born from the Singapore experience that will filter through over here.”

But the chef in Geiszler is partly suffering from the chef becoming discovered in everyone else, with more people eating at home and challenging conditions.

“People are going to restaurants less and are dropping off, eating at home and I think the MasterChef phenomenon has had an effect,” he says.

“We had to work harder to get growth this year in existing stores. It was a different story this year – we had to do more work to market them as people were putting up the buffer zones from their mortgages.

“We had to go out and find new ways of getting customers, so we got more involved in the social media space and we opened up our online purchasing channels, with 15 per cent of our sales now through online orders.”

Geiszler will also branch out to the world of iPad and iPod applications soon, while the company’s Facebook page now has close to 10,000 members.

When queried whether he would expand into frozen gourmet pizzas to cater to the eat-at-home market, Geiszler claims it would impinge on the franchisees he holds a moral obligation to.

On a personal note, he is moving to a house closer to the city and has increased his focus on living healthy through diet and exercise, following major a health scare.

“I’ve lost 28kg since Christmas last year and that’s since we’ve developed the 97 per cent fat-free pizza as well, and as far as I can tell it’s the only 97 per cent fat-free pizza product in the world,” he says.

“In the last two years there has been so much doom and gloom, and if you’re not careful with all that stuff on your mind, thinking of doomsday scenarios, you end up looking at your watch, seeing it’s 11pm and you’re still in the office.”

Good thing his commuter times will now be much shorter.

For a full profile list on Brisbane’s 2010 Young Entrepreneurs, including interviews with all of the finalists, get a copy of the special annual edition of Brisbane Business News – out now in more than 500 greater Brisbane newsagents.

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