Pie Face aims at taking slice of US market

Food franchise Pie Face has expanded to the United States, opening its first store in the heart of New York, but has tweaked its all-Australian offering only slightly for the US market.


Founded in 2003 by Wayne Homschek and Betty Fong, Pie Face specialises in gourmet pies, sausages rolls, coffee and other baked goods.


The Pie Face network has grown to more than 60 stores in Australia, with an average of three new stores opening each month along the eastern seaboard.


It was reported in April last year Pie Face Holdings is looking to raise up to $10 million in a pre IPO investment, with plans to float the company for more than $100 million this year.


While there’s no word on when that is likely to happen, Pie Face opened the doors of its first US store on Australia Day. The store is located on Broadway, an iconic New York street.


According to Homschek, New Yorkers “have taken to the Aussie pie like flies to a barbeque”, saying the store ran out of pies on its first day of trading.


“Each day, thousands of New Yorkers queue up for a taste of the humble Australian meat pie, and sales have blown apart every budget set by the Pie Face team,” Homschek says.


Homschek says while the Pie Face brand is quintessentially Australian, he was confident it had the potential to go global, explaining the all-Australian menu is the main attraction.


“The amount of international enquiries from prospective franchise owners – particularly [in] the US – confirms our belief, and people understand our offering,” he says.


Meanwhile, Fong says the success of the first US store has prompted the company to search for others site around New York, with the aim of opening a second store by mid-year.


“We think that New Yorkers will love Pie Face just as much as Aussies do,” Fong says.


According to Fong, the Pie Face offering was tweaked only slightly for the US market. The menu still features pies, sausage rolls, baked goods and its signature “Wake me up!!!” coffee.


While franchisors are encouraged to tweak their offerings when entering new markets, some are beginning to leave them unchanged, using their Australian flavour as a point of difference.


The Coffee Club, which is in the process of expanding into new and existing markets, says little has been changed in the way of marketing to consumers overseas.


“What we have done overseas is slightly tweak the menu. In Thailand, 20% of the menu has a Thai influence,” founder-director Emmanuel Drivas told StartupSmart.


“But in China, it’s 100% Australian… People expect something different.”


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