Little Caesars Pizza looks to conquer Thailand

pizza4Little Caesars, one of the leading pizza chains in the United States, said last week it want to take a slice of Thailand’s growing pizza market by opening 50 stores in the Kingdom during the next three to five years, while also expanding into neighboring Myanmar and Cambodia.

“Little Caesars Pizza wants to expand business in Southeast Asia because the region has a large population,” said Sean T. Ngo, international representative for Southeast Asia at Little Caesars Incorporated. “In Thailand, people have been familiar with pizza for a long time. Moreover, Thailand is a major tourist destinations in ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations).”

American-born entrepreneur William Heinecke first introduced pizza to Thailand. He opened the first Pizza Hut in Bangkok in the 1980s, despite many skeptics who said Asians would not eat cheese or bread. Heinecke proved that notion wrong. Eventually, he founded his own chain called The Pizza, which has expanded into neighboring countries. Other American pizza chains, such as Domino’s, also have a presence in the Kingdom.

Despite no longer being a greenfield market for pizza, Ngo said that Thailand still held opportunities for Little Caesars, and he added that the company was considering selling franchises to local investors. He said that the Little Caesars brand is well known in the industry and among consumers globally.

“Little Caesars Pizza may be the pizza brand choice for customers who want to try classic or authentic pizza from the US,” Sethapong Phadungpisuth, managing director of Gnosis Co, a leading franchise consultant, told the Bangkok Post newspaper. “Little Caesars is about 20 percent cheaper than the other pizza brands in the American market.”

The brand is also the third-biggest pizza chain in the U.S., and Ngo said it had the largest pickup pizza business in the world. “Little Caesars Pizza will change Thai consumer behavior and the way they eat pizza,” he said.

The Michigan-based company was founded in 1959, but only began expanding internationally during the past 10 years. More than 1,000 Little Caesars Pizza stores have been opened in 20 countries, and major competitors include Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza.