Once upon a time a company was founded by a chef called Dave in a small restaurant at Gaol Cross in Cork Ireland. After trading successfully for a number of years, Dave had a bright idea to make a range of Innovative totally natural great tasting pizzas for retail shops and supermarkets. The pizzas were 12 Inch with 500 grams of Toppings from the best local producers Dave could find and had no additives, preservatives or GM Ingredients. When the Pizza was perfect Dave blast froze it and put in a brown box, with a simple label on it and set about selling to supermarkets and speciality food stores.
He called his company The Alternative Pizza Company.
Pizza heavenEverybody loved the Pizzas as they had a thin crisp base nicer and more toppings then any other Pizza they could get. Frank joined to help Dave with Sales and soon the Pizzas were for sale in 50 speciality Stores throughout Ireland, Frank made a breakthrough with Superquinn, and soon sales grew to 2000 Pizzas per week. In 2006 Frank left and Martin joined and he drove sales further securing listings with Supervalu Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Fresh and Wild (UK), and notably Harrods. Pizza assembly was moved from Gaol Cross, to a purpose built unit kindly supported by Cork County Council,a complete rebrand was achieved by swapping skills for equity with Stephen.
Soon the company was selling 7000 Pizzas a week and employed 10 People. Charlie who owned a long established Food Company in Cork acquired the Company in June 2007 and the assembly unit was moved to Churchfield in Cork.
Dave stayed with the Company and grew to love doing the Outdoor festivals like Electric Picnic, as It gave him the opportunity to try out new pizza combinations like Bacon and Cabbage, Smoked Salmon and Fennel, and Four Irish Cheeses Pizzas.
Martin sold his shareholding to Charlie and left and set up a small unit selling pizza slices under the Alternative Pizza Brand in Cork’s English Market which traded for six months but proved unsuccessful.
Here comes the downturnIn June 2009 due to the economic downturn The Alternative Pizza Company ceased trading and was placed in Liquidation.
Martin was immediately interested because he knew the brand had great potential because of what it stood for and with help from Frank they bought the brand, web site, packaging, and some equipment from the liquidator with a view to restarting the company.
Martin wrote down what the brand stood for - natural handmade gourmet Pizzas, using the best ingredients from artisan producers, and assembled in the locality, blast frozen in time, and put in a brown box with a simple label.
Frank and Martin put together a business plan, with a view to securing an investment to restart the business and create ten new jobs. Banks, private investors and other producers all said ‘No’ until Martin met Joe from a large food company in Kildare, who said ‘Yes’ they would be interested in getting involved, and a license agreement to assemble pizzas for the irish market was reached in January 2010. Together with Joe, the pizzas were completely re-constructed to feature toppings from Artisan Producers Like Fingal in Gubeen and Anthony in Ummera Smokehouse, Martin was delighted that Dave agreed to handle outside catering in a specially designed unit to serve Farmers Markets and Other Outdoor events.
Around the same time Dan asked Martin about the possibilty of setting up The Alternative Pizza Company in Spain, Dan lived part of the year in Almeira and was looking to get involved in a business.
Eureka!Martin had a Eureka moment and thought what if instead of exporting the product to Spain, you could export the brand, and set up a Mini Assembly unit employing 6 people making 2000 hand made Pizzas a week using ingredients from the locality in which they were assembled and marketed under The Alternative Pizza Brand.
Martin talked to Bord Bia and asked them how many frozen pizzas were sold in the Supermarkets in Spain every year. 200 Million Units was the answer. 35 Million Frozen Pizzas Sold in Ireland, 250 Million in The UK, 160 Million in South Africa and 2 Billion Frozen Pizzas sold in the USA anually.
Martin did more research, and was staggered by the size of the market for Frozen pizzas worldwide and the dominace of big brands he knew their was room for a hand made gourmet pizza. He contacted Bord Bia and Aiden’s assistant Una got back to him straight away, to agree that the idea of exporting the brand to other territories worldwide had merit, and they agreed to appoint a mentor to fine tune the License concept, with a view to rolling out the proposition in territories Worldwide.