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The Caterer

Stephen Hemsley

12 May 2005
Stephen Hemsley

Overall ranking: 82

Restaurateurs ranking: 26

Snapshot

Stephen Hemsley is the city gent who swapped his pinstripes for pizzas. He is the chief executive of Domino's Pizza UK and Ireland, which holds the master franchise for the region for the pizza takeaway and home delivery company.

The brand, which was founded in the USA in 1960 and came to the UK in 1985, has grown to 7,400 stores worldwide with more than 2,000 franchisees. It is the fourth largest quick-service restaurant chain after McDonald's, Burger King and KFC and claims to account for one in ten of all meals delivered to the home in the UK.

Career guide

Hemsley, who was born in 1957 and studied to be a chartered accountant, joined financial consultant 3i as investment director in 1984.

Between 1993 and 1997, he served as group finance director at the Meltek Group, which he led through one of the UK's first flotations on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in 1995.

He put this experience to use after joining Domino's as finance director in 1998. A year later, the group became the first home delivery food company to float on the AIM. Hemsley was promoted to chief executive in January 2001.

What we think

Hemsley has presided over Domino's rapid expansion from 210 stores in 2001 to 357 today.

The financial performance of the group, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has been equally impressive. System sales have grown by 175% in the past five years from £63.9m in 1999 to £174.3m last year (a 22.5% rise on 2003). Pre-tax profits in 2004 rose by 35% to £8.8m and like-for-like sales were 6.6% ahead in the first six weeks of this year.

Domino's claims to be the market leader in the pizza home delivery sector, which accounts for 43% of the total £1.2b market for home delivered meals.

Hemsley sees plenty of scope for continued growth as the £400m UK pizza market is predicted to double in size by 2010. He is targeting 50 new openings a year to reach 500 stores by 2007, covering 60% of UK households. Longer-term, Hemsley believes the UK and Ireland could support up to 800 outlets.

Hemsley's hands-on approach means he oversees all new openings and meets all new franchisees. Domino's has 145 franchisees, of which nearly half are multi-site operators and 20 have reached millionaire status in terms of assets. The group was named the Franchisor of the Year in 2004 at the British Franchise Association's annual awards.

Hemsley is keen to apply the entrepreneurial spirit to the company's 18 owned stores and is now seeking to form joint ventures to run them.

Domino's has been quick to embrace new technology and, between 1999 and 2000, became the first pizza delivery company in the world to offer internet and interactive television ordering on a nationwide scale. E-commerce now accounts for £8.2m in sales, a rise of 41% on 2003. This represents 5.2% of total system sales and 7% of delivery sales.

In response to the health debate, Domino's was the first to launch a low-fat mozzarella option. But its biggest new offering has been the double-decker Double Decadence, which boosted average weekly sales to record levels in the six weeks to January 2005.

Hemsley is a member of the Bank of England Committee of Agents which advises the Monetary Policy Committee on London Stock Exchange.

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