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Warren Powell is just about ready to declare success.

Two years after the Hell Pizza co-founder bought the company back from Tasman Foods, the local Burger King franchise owner, the company is once again profitable, growing internationally and on the cusp of restoring local outlet numbers to pre-sale levels, according to the Sunday Star Times.

Powell says reinvigorating the Hell business is all about returning to founding principles – using the best possible ingredients, restoring the company’s quirky website, tightening up franchises and lightening up on management.

Powell says reducing the quality of ingredients sent the wrong message to franchisees, allowing them to think they could scrimp in other areas.

In fact, he says, doing just the opposite is the key to success for a quality brand.

Powell believes giving back to your customers pays off in loyalty and turnover.

“If you give people something, it comes back,” he says.

Gone, he said, is the tight focus on wastage. Pizza bases are made fresh every day again.

Also back are vouchers for late delivery and other free goodies.

Store numbers are back too – to 64, down just two from the number when Hell was sold in 2006. That difference will be made up in the next couple of months.

However, further growth above that number in New Zealand will be minimal.

There simply isn’t room for more, except in specific locations such as Auckland, if current franchise owners are to continue to enjoy healthy turnover.

Another bright spot is the increasing number of international franchises being sold. Hell is now in Ireland, India, Canada, Korea, the UK and troubled market Australia.

Hell’s success is good news for other local businesses as well. Kumara chips and French Maid’s sauces are being exported.

“Most of our pizzas are 95% fat-free and we need to be consistent across the world. You can’t cut costs,” Powell said.

One thing that has changed locally is the competition. Powell has good words for the new brand about town, Sal’s, but said the two companies’ businesses are quite different.

Hell is more focused on home delivery and uses ovens capable of producing 250 pizzas an hour, without compromising quality. — Source: Sunday Star Times

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