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Although pizza is traditionally one of the top-performing fast food sectors in South Africa, it's had a difficult time of late. Even before Covid-19, intense competition in the sector has seen several brands come and go, and drastic price cuts from others to win over customers.

On the surface, however, a pizza franchise is a fairly attractive option. There are various store formats, from kiosk-type takeaways to full-service restaurants. And at the lower end of the scale, pizza franchises represent some of the cheaper food-based franchises you can buy in South Africa.

If you've always dreamed of owning a pizzeria, or want to cash in on South Africa's appreciation for the cheap to produce Italian dish, then this is how the country's top franchises stack up.

Roman's Pizza

The first Roman's Pizza branch opened in 2002, and the brand quickly made a name for itself by offering two pizzas for the price of one. Today there are roughly 200 branches located throughout the country, and they are still looking for new franchisees to open stores. According to Roman's Pizza, the ideal franchisee is passionate about the business and open to working long hours.

The store offers four to six weeks of training, and analyse new locations carefully before opening branches. Once head office determines the viability of a new site, they will kit it out with up to three ovens, dough mixers, and dough rollers.

To buy your own Roman's Pizza branch, you'll need to pay an initial joining fee of R90,000. A new branch costs roughly R2.6 million to build out - half of which must be available as unencumbered cash. You'll also need a working capital of R100,000.

Once established, Roman's takes an 8% of monthly turnover for management and advertising fees.

Panarottis

Panarottis, owned by franchise giant Spur Corporation, is one of the more established pizza franchises available for purchase in South Africa. Panarottis has two store formats available to buy - a standard store that offers a broad Italian menu for sit-down meals, and express branches that focus on takeaways.

If you're interested in opening your own Panarottis store in South Africa, you'll need at least R1.2 million for an express format, and R4 million for a full store. Panarottis does not publicly disclose franchise fees, working capital, management, and marketing fees.

Pizza Perfect

Pizza Perfect originated in 1989 and currently has more than 100 franchise outlets located throughout South Africa. The business prides itself on creating fresh pizzas in its open kitchen format stores, using a wood-fired oven.

Pizza Perfect is still looking for new franchisees to join its network. They are particularly looking for people who are passionate about providing excellent service and those willing to work hands-on in the daily running of the branch.

A new Pizza Perfect branch requires an initial fee of R85,000. The average cost of setting up a Pizza Perfect branch is currently R1.2 million, excluding VAT, but it varies according to the size of the store. Franchisees must have 50% of this available as unencumbered cash. Once up and running, franchisees must pay monthly fees of 9% of turnover for royalties and marketing.

Debonairs Pizza

Debonairs Pizza, which falls under the Famous Brand group, is one of the most established pizza franchises in the country. There are more than 600 branches located throughout South Africa. Although some provinces are heavily subscribed, the group is still looking to take on new franchisees.

Four Debonairs store formats are available for franchising, and each caters to different markets and come at different prices. The cheapest option available is a Container Concept, followed by Shopping Mall Concept, an Express store, and a Standard Debonairs.

All prospective franchisees must pay an initial fee of between R50,000 and R68,000, depending on the store format. A standard Debonairs costs approximately R2.24 to set up, a shopping mall store R2.38 million to set up, and an express format R2.05 million. The cheapest option is the Container Concept, which costs approximately R1.5 million.

Famous Brands requires franchisees have working capital of R250,000 to R450,000, and between R55,000 and R95,000 for initial stock. The group also charges monthly fees for marketing and royalties of 12% of turnover.

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