Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pizza Pizza outlets pop up all over

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PIZZA Pizza is going to Manitoba's oil country.

The Toronto-based pizza chain is continuing its aggressive growth in the province with the opening of its first location in Virden and another one in Winnipeg, bringing its total to 11.

Pat Finelli, Pizza Pizza's chief marketing officer, said he's nowhere close to done with expansion. "Virden is a bustling community with a lot to offer. We're going to go to Brandon next, and I have three more ready to open up in Winnipeg in the next six months. We have signed leases, and they're under construction," he said.

Pizza Pizza entered Winnipeg in 2009 with a pair of locations, one on Portage Avenue and a second on Pembina Highway. Both stores are bringing in more than $1 million a year in revenue.

But all outlets are benefiting from the chain's sponsorship of the Winnipeg Jets, Finelli said. Pizza Pizza has five counters at Jets games, plus four others at non-traditional sites such as the University of Manitoba and Cineplex movie theatres.

The exposure at Jets games has led many consumers to email him asking for the brand's pizzerias in their neighbourhoods, he said.

Of the four NHL teams Pizza Pizza sponsors -- the Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens -- Jets games are the second-biggest seller, trailing only Toronto, he said. Each Pizza Pizza restaurant employs between 10 and 15 full-time and part-time staff.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 30, 2014 B6

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