Papa Murphy’s may have gotten its start more than 2,500 miles away, but that isn’t stopping the brand from targeting Charlotte, North Carolina as its next expansion opportunity in the Southeast.
The brand, which has been known for its unique take ‘n’ bake pizza concept since its founding in 1981, established a foundation in metro Charlotte in 2010. Since then, it has opened nine stores—six of which opened in the area just within the past 12 months. There are three additional locations also in the works, which are expected to open in Huntersville, Gastonia and Cornelius within the next few months. And yet, despite this impressive growth over the past year, Gary Payne, the vice president of franchise sales for Papa Murphy’s, thinks the brand is just getting started in this booming market.
“Charlotte is a very fast-growing area with lots of exciting economic development and I think the number of growing families there fits well with our target,” Payne said. “Part of Papa Murphy’s advantage in the market is also the fact that there’s simply nothing else that provides fresh pizza for customers to bake at home.”
Papa Murphy’s has long differentiated itself from other national pizza chains by giving its customers an uncooked product that is ready to pop into the oven. Orders can be placed online or called in and picked up in store at the guest’s convenience. And for those who prefer to place their order in store, pizzas can be ready in as little as three minutes.
Today, with more than 1,500 locations throughout the country, it’s clear the take ‘n’ bake approach is paying off for Papa Murphy’s in a big way. The goal now, Payne said, is to focus on outward growth from its home base on the West Coast. To do this, the brand’s franchise development process is focused on saturating small- to mid-sized cities to create a strong brand presence before tackling larger metropolitan areas as they move East. Which is why the brand is focused on building out the Charlotte market before expanding in larger cities, like Atlanta.
According to Payne, Charlotte can accommodate a total of 25 stores in the next two to five years. Right now, the brand also has strong development plans in Alabama; Savannah, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; and throughout Tennessee.
“We’re laser focused on expanding in targeted smaller markets throughout the Southeast. Charlotte is the largest territory in the Southeast that has open stores. Now, we’re focused on building out the market to continue growing brand awareness and acquiring more customers,” Payne said. “Our success in emerging markets hinges on brand awareness that leads to trial since we’re such a unique concept. Once people try Papa Murphy’s, they are hooked.”