The duo that brought Seattle Coffee Company to the UK in the early 1990s are set to try and repeat the trick with a fast pizza concept they own — and have persuaded Carphone Warehouse founder and entrepreneur Sir Charles Dunstone to chair the business.
Scott and Ally Svenson, who revolutionised UK coffee culture when they launched Seattle Coffee, believe now is the right time to unleash MOD Pizza on the UK market, seven years after they opened the first of their 70 stores in the US.
They have signed a joint venture agreement with Dunstone and his long-standing business partner, Roger Taylor, in what marks the brand’s first attempt at taking the brand international.
The Svensons plan to introduce MOD Pizza to the UK during the first half of 2016, followed by a “rapid national roll-out”. Dunstone, who also founded TalkTalk Telecom, and is chairman of TalkTalk and Dixons Carphone, will serve as chairman of MOD UK and said he is looking forward to “disrupting” the UK pizza scene.
It is his second high-profile venture in the foodservice market following his involvement in bringing Five Guys to the UK two years ago. The burger chain now operates 30 stores in the UK and is about to open its first location in France.
“We are thrilled to partner with Sir Charles and Roger to launch MOD in the United Kingdom, a place that inspired much of the spirit behind the MOD brand,” said Scott Svenson. “The most important factor in choosing our first international partner was finding someone who shares our values and will cultivate the MOD culture. Sir Charles and Roger not only believe in MOD’s people-first approach, they are committed to using the business to make a positive social impact.”
While living in the UK for more than a decade, Scott and Ally created and sold Seattle Coffee Company to Starbucks in 1998 and helped launch and build the Carluccio’s brand. After moving home to Seattle, they founded MOD Pizza in 2008, combining inspiration from the energy and attitude of the original Mod movement in London with their love for Italian street-style pizza and the belief that a business can succeed by putting people first.
MOD’s individual artisan-style pizzas are made on demand, allowing customers to create their own pizzas and salads, using fresh-pressed dough and signature sauces at a fixed price regardless of the number of toppings.
Pizzas are hand-cooked in an 800 degree oven in less than three minutes and salads are individually hand-tossed for each customer. The menu is rounded out with handspun milkshakes, house-made lemonades and iced teas, and local craft beers and wine.
The company currently operates 68 restaurants across 12 states, but is aiming to reach stores by the end of the year.
Sir Charles said: “With its compelling combination of superior food quality, value, speed and its culture of leveraging the business as a platform to do good, I believe MOD will translate extremely well across the United Kingdom. As one of the fastest growing food concepts in the United States, I see a tremendous opportunity for MOD to disrupt the UK pizza scene with its ‘super fast’ pizza experience.”
Dunstone and Roger Taylor are business partners in Freston Ventures, a private company which they use for personal investments, including their joint ventures with MOD Pizza and Five Guys. Taylor is a former CFO and chief executive of Carphone Warehouse.