Junk food still delivering healthy profits for the Domino's Pizza man

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The Independent Online

Chicken wings, fizzy drinks and even a cheeseburger-style pizza are being gobbled up by Domino's Pizza customers in their droves. According to America's second-largest pizza chain, the nation's love of fast food is alive and well.

Chicken wings, fizzy drinks and even a cheeseburger-style pizza are being gobbled up by Domino's Pizza customers in their droves. According to America's second-largest pizza chain, the nation's love of fast food is alive and well.

Domino's shares closed up 5 per cent in New York yesterday. The company's chief executive, David Brandon, said first-quarter sales were up strongly, with his customers showing no signs of deserting for healthier options.

"We test-marketed a low-carb pizza crust and it was a failure," Mr Brandon said. While customers can choose healthy toppings such as low-fat cheese and vegetables, Mr Brandon said Domino's customers "are not all that concerned with counting carbs".

In contrast, the recently launched American Classic Cheeseburger Pizza - which brings together two of the country's favourite foods in one slice - was going down well, Domino's said.

Overall, quarterly income rose by one-third to $25m (£13m). Revenue totalled $370m, up 16 per cent from a year earlier. America's pizza market is dominated by Pizza Hut, followed by Domino's and Papa John's.

Like-for-like sales at Domino's US outlets grew 11 per cent in the first quarter, while international restaurants, including its UK business, posted a same-store sales gain of 9 per cent. Domino's, based in Michigan, floated last summer. A private equity firm, Bain Capital, bought the business from its founder, Tom Monaghan, for $1.1bn in 1999.

Mr Monaghan, who opened the first Domino's in 1960, has used some of his fortune to fund Catholic causes, including setting up Ave Maria University, the first Catholic university to open in the US in four decades.

Mr Brandon said that Domino's, along with other food companies, had been hit by high commodity prices, including cheese. The "negative cheese variance" had slightly subdued the company's first-quarter results, he said. Cheese makes up 35 per cent of the cost of producing each Domino's pizza.

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