Pie Five’s free fall continues

The Pie Five fast-casual pizza chain posted a 17.3% decline in same-store sales for the quarter ended Sept. 24, but a 1.4% rise in the domestic comps of sister brand Pizza Inn helped parent company Rave Restaurant Group narrow its net loss to $400,000.

Rave lost $1.5 million in the year-ago quarter. 

Revenues for the company, which operates or holds the franchise rights to 300 pizzerias, fell by 13.8%, to $13.2 million.

The company’s results underscored the leaden effect of Pie Five, once a star of the crowded fast-casual pizza market. After closing units, Rave ended the quarter with 83 Pie Fives open. Systemwide sales for the brand fell 17.3%, Rave said.

Pizza Inn was founded in 1958, making it by far the older of Rave’s brands and one of the oldest pizza chains in the industry. In recent years, Rave had shifted attention to Pie Five, designating it as the company’s primary growth vehicle. The brand was launched in 2011.

"There is a great deal of excitement around the Pizza Inn brand right now,” CEO Scott Crane said in a prepared statement. “With impressive international comparable store sales growth and 1.4% domestic comparable sales growth, we are seeing franchisees re-energized and looking to add more units.”

He did not reveal the Q3 comps figure for Pizza Inn’s overseas stores.

Crane noted that Pie Five continues to prune weak stores, but has found success with a nontraditional unit, a newly opened outlet in San Francisco. “Initial sales are fantastic,” he said.

"Our turnaround plan for Rave is on course, with Pizza Inn showing positive comparable sales and unit growth in the pipeline while Pie Five successfully exits underperforming markets and works to improve its underlying unit economics," Crane commented. "In addition, we have made great strides in streamlining corporate overhead to become more efficient operationally while improving the bottom line."

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