Hell Pizza

An interesting story in the Dom Post yesterday on Hell Pizza’s success.

More importantly, for a company that shunned high-powered ad campaigns and discounting, their public relations exploits have endeared the company to its target market, a hard-core following of younger people and anyone else with an off-centre sense of humour.

Heh off-centre is a polite name for it.

“I hate it when someone asks me how the chain of stores is going. It’s not a ‘chain’, we’re a cult,” Mr McMullin says.


In New Zealand, the company underwent phenomenal growth. In four years, Hell went from four stores to 66, with revenue accelerating from $1.2 million to $55 million before its three owners sold Hell’s rights to Burger King New Zealand franchise holder TPF for about $15 million in 2006.

A real success story.

Hell was the brainchild of Callum Davies, a Wellington College schoolmate of Stuart McMullin. The brand, its high-end-of-the-market menu and the first Hell outlet in Kelburn, Wellington, were created in 1996.

Tiring of a string of corporate jobs with Westpac, ACC, ACNielsen and IT Manpower, Mr McMullin, asked his friend, over a game of golf, if he wanted a partner – and the deal was struck.

The pair worked between 90 and 100 hours a week, opening a further three stores and doing most of the renovating and outfitting themselves.

But wait they are one of those nasty business owners who just want to sack employees at whim, aren’t they?

Hell Systems Ltd owns the Hell trademarks and other intellectual property (IP) and whenever the company had spare cash, Mr McMullin would register Hell’s IP in countries with potential markets. Hell gets $250,000 for each master franchise licence for a country, $10,000 for each store opened, and a 1 per cent royalty.

It will be great if one day Hell Pizza is as big as Pizza Hut – and it all started here.

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