Monthly Archives: August 2022

Dominos Italy: Veni Vidi Arrivederci

in August, US-based Dominos shuttered its 30 or so outlets in Italy. Qu’elle surprise! Or not. You could easily imagine the internal debate, eg

1. our Master Franchise partner will add local legal, regulatory, employee management & cultural savvy;

2. if we can make it in Italy, it says terrific things about how authentic and globally revered our product is.

Alas, “No dice” said the Italian prospects. And a very public failure to be given the boot from… The Boot. Would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the launch prep sessions! I’ve no doubt much work was done before launch; yet they fully failed to understand consumer attitudes/receptivity. How can that happen?

Here are a few possible ideas from a cranky old warrior who saw several well resourced, well paced firms blow their offshore expansions:

  1. They did OK research but ignored the findings. This isn’t as unusual as you might think, esp if the launch takes on ‘project momentum’. To raise your hand & question an inertia project is to risk being labelled a naysayer, a barrier, etc – perhaps get fired.
  2. The project had a ‘supported’ sponsor. A USA tissue company tasked its Darden-Wharton KantMissKidz to a European bath tissue expansion. They were given specific info about necessary steps to take & barriers to avoid, but ignored all of that advice, and blew the launch. Even STILL, another group got blamed.
  3. The executed plan differed from the test plan; perhaps the price structure was revised late in the game due to Supply Chain or Exchange Rate challenges, or maybe a media campaign was ‘trimmed’ to less than the intended spend. This happens a lot!
  4. The research was flawed. They may have used a skewed Sample &/or wrong research methods, leading questions, poorly chosen survey question/ response options. Or the research medium itself created an atmosphere where respondents felt social pressure to reply positively.

You & I will never see the detailed ‘post-mortem’ of what went wrong. Even if you found such an account,, don’t necessarily believe a word of it. I guarantee you: in a Big Org such as Dominos, the backstabbing & blame reallocation maneuvering has been fast & furious ever since this Star started to look like a Dog. Careers have been lost – and probably not by those who deserved it.

But that’s a subject for another day- as is “Does pineapple belong on a pizza?”

Acquisition ‘Wins’ Will Vary

The beverage sector may be more interesting to follow for the next while, we may see some dominoes fall (acquisitions) or launches. A fascinating aspect of acquisitions is they show the specific growth strategy in a more revealing way than a CEO’s words/guidance. Monster energy drink acquired a craft brewery, then announced a 6% malt brew; they ‘unleashed the beast’ of an expansion plan. The buyout wins them expertise & credibility/access in a new sector (imo it was wise that their brew is under a non-Monster brand. An energy drink that sponsors extreme sports -Red Bull, Monster etc- must recognize the iffy optics of blending alcohol & extreme sports. That’s an #ethical powder keg).

Also in beverages: when Sapporo bought Sleemans in 2006, or Royal Unibrew bought Amsterdams (this summer), the new owner wins added brand(s) for a global portfolio, yet the end-game is to gain local market (Canada) expertise & channel access to win more presence for their home brand in Canada. You find Sapporo beer in many more Canadian pubs & liquor stores now, than in their Pre-Sleeman days. Expect the same for RU; prepare to see the Danish firm’s iconic Faxe beer in more Canadian pubs (perhaps including their overly potent 10% alcohol beer!). Contrast those wins with why Labatt bought Mill Street (2015); the late (& sorely missed) Joel Manning was a brilliant brewer, but Labatt already had brewing savvy; their big win was the Mill Street ‘craft brewer’ #brand when ‘mass’ beer brands were on the out; boutique brands that signaled individuality were on the upswing esp with GenyY/GenZ drinkers.

In contrast, what are the specific ‘wins‘ for Tech Behemoths when they make an ecosystem acquisition? eg when Amazon buys iRobot (Roomba) or Google buys Nest, or FitBit; are they after the tech itself? Patents? Brand Name? Channel savvy? Nope! The big win: instant permission-approved 1:1 data access.

Acquisitions: we watch’em, learn from’em & see strategy revealed. But there are many reasons to buy a firm; we must not assume the same metrics, or reasons, apply each time. There are many ways to win.

Thanks to LastCall news and FoodDive for the news!