Shopping Centers Today International

JAN 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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president of Starbucks U.K. and later president of Starbucks Europe. "We have always been foodies and people who really enjoy watching what is happening in retail," said Svenson. It is no secret that Americans eat a lot of pizza, though this market had suffered "a stunning lack of innovation," accord- ing to Svenson. The company bills itself as "the pioneer of the fast-casual pizza segment," where new concepts have proliferated since MOD came into exis- tence. According to a 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in eight American adults eats pizza on any given day, and, not surprisingly, chil- dren eat pizza more often than adults. America's love affair with pizza has helped drive the surprising growth of "build your own," fast-casual pizza chains, among them LeBron James–backed Blaze Pizza and Pie Five Pizza as well as MOD. In 2014 sales in the category were an estimated $400 million, according to Chicago-based market research firm Technomic. Sales projections for 2015 are expected to double that, and the pattern is likely to repeat itself this year, reports Technomic. "People see MOD as a different way to enjoy a product they already love," said Svenson. MOD customers step into what Svenson calls the "make line," which winds past a menu board describing 10 "classic" pizzas, four of them named af- ter the Svensons' sons. The Tristan pizza, for instance, named after one son, is topped with mozzarella and Asiago cheeses, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and pesto sauce. Customers who wish to choose their own toppings or who ask for varia- tions may do so. The price for each pizza is fixed, no matter how many toppings are added. As with Chipotle, the ingredients are on display at MOD and a big part of the experience is watching as one's order is assembled and cooked in an open kitchen. MOD also sells made-to-order, hand-tossed salads, house-made lemonades and iced teas, and local craft beers and wine. Pricing varies by region, but MOD customers can get a meal of pizza or salad plus a drink for about $10. In the Northwest, an 11-inch, thin- crust pizza sells for $7.47, as does a salad. Located in community shopping centers and downtown ar- eas, MOD units measure about 2,500 to 2,800 square feet and are designed to be stylish and high-energy, with high-volume music playing, and the customer is greeted upon entering. Each has a "wall of fame" featuring photos of customers, em- ployees and local landmarks. "You are not going to be greeted by pictures of pizza, tomatoes or basil," said Svenson. "Our product is pizza, but what we really celebrate is the people." Indeed, the company markets itself as a purpose-led organiza- tion, one that is both "unapologetically for-profit" and commit- ted to making a positive social impact in the lives of employees and local communities. "You need to make sure that employ- ees feel inspired and cared for so that they can do the same for customers," said Svenson. The starting wage is $10 per hour, and the company offers health insurance to any employee who works more than 25 hours per week. It also hires job seekers that other retailers might eschew, such as individuals with past criminal convictions or with developmental disabilities. "Some of our most amazing team members have those backgrounds and just needed someone to believe in them," said Svenson. Although MOD is encountering plenty of competition as it expands, Svenson says the chain will ultimately be one of just a few large, fast-casual pizza chains left standing. MOD anticipates generating $60 million in revenues for 2015, triple the previous year's revenues. The company's investors include heavy hitters in the retail, restaurant and tech sectors, such as some current and former executives from Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and Zillow. In the fast-casual pizza segment, according to Svenson, "the noise over time will give way to a few brands that will be serious players in this space." For leasing, contact, Greta Pass, vice president of real estate, at gpass@modpizza.com. S C T 24 S C T / J a n u a r y 2 0 1 6 r e T a i l i n g T o d a y m o l l y p i p e r p h o t o g r a p h y

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