Dubai, U.A.E (31 January 2011) – New Orleans-based Naked Pizza, one of the world’s fastest growing franchises, is celebrating the opening of its first international location in Dubai Marina. The brand goes by the name N_K_D Pizza in the U.A.E. as a gesture of cultural respect. Naked Pizza chose Dubai as its global beachhead based on the city’s standing as a magnet for entrepreneurship, attractive demographics and access to investment partners throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia. The company currently has 8 open stores in the U.S. and is on pace to open 75 stores this year including locations in Boston, Washington D.C., Phoenix, Boulder, Denver and New York City. Naked Pizza has more than 450 stores under contract around the world.
The company continues to attract international media and investment attention for its mission to demonstrate that fast food can be part of the solution for a host of health issues, its disciplined and highly profitable business model, as well as its pioneering use of technology and social media to engage its audiences. In Dubai, the company has been featured in more than 100 media stories and has been maintaining an active schedule of public presentations including public health conferences, business groups and local universities, including collaborations with students from the American Universities in Sharjah and Dubai.
“Our beachhead in Dubai is part of acting on the promise at the core of our business mission – to launch the world’s largest grassroots health movement on the back of a $50 billion global industry,” says co-founder Randy Crochet. “The U.A.E. is facing the same health issues as the U.S. In fact it’s a global problem as more people move from rural areas to cities in places like India with a surging middle class.”
Naked Pizza’s recipe is based on the use of all-natural ingredients with no added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, hormones or preservatives. Its crust is made from what it calls and “Ancestral Blend™” of grains, prebiotic fiber from the agave plant and special heat resistant probiotics (or “healthful” bacteria.) The diversity of nutrients and fiber along with the added probiotics support digestive health. According to co-founder Jeff Leach, it’s a recipe based on a 200,000-year-old nutritional blueprint, and a taste that’s all pizza – saucy, cheesy, still round, still comes in a square box, delivered in about 25 minutes.
Naked Pizza considers itself part of the post-recession, post-mass media driven entrepreneurship taking hold around the world. “Social media has been embraced in a unique way in Middle East, fueling entrepreneurial activity but also as part of a culture eager for opportunities of expression,” says co-founder Robbie Vitrano. “The Iranian elections exploded the platform as a cultural and economic force. Many people in the region are familiar with our use of social media and as a result, there’s been an intense interest in how our brand uses the platform to engage audiences and push our mission. ”
Leach sums it up: “Fast food is arguably the most successful commercial enterprise in the world in terms of marketing, product, distribution, and economies of scale. Our all natural, healthier pizza is riding in on that Trojan horse intersecting a global demand for healthier lifestyles. Regardless of where we are, our business boils down to our pizza being a point of authentic connection – an honest exchange that starts a conversation about the food supply, policy or anything else people want to talk about. It gives people some tools to make better decisions about their health, the system and the food they eat. It’s about igniting a movement. And that takes scale and attention to profitability. Which is precisely what our international expansion is designed to do.”
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What if pizza was good for you? And what if you could use fast food as a Trojan horse to solve a massive social and economic problem by demonstrating that it can be part of the solution to the global epidemic of obesity and chronic disease by making it healthful, instead of harmful? And so the idea for Naked Pizza was born, in a 500-square-foot building that took in 6 feet of Hurricane Katrina water. There we perfected a radically different pizza that uses a diversity of grains, prebiotic agave fiber, and healthful bacteria called probiotics in the crust instead of the traditional one grain crust made from a single, highly processed, nutritionally stripped carbohydrate. We made our pizza all natural (and affordable – starts at $4.99) – no preservatives, no added sugar, or antibiotics or hormones – in the sauce, cheese, veggies and meat toppings.
Our concept attracted the investment of billionaires Mark Cuban and Robert Kraft. The company has received more than 5000 franchising inquiries from around the world of which a select few have been awarded territories for development. In the twelve months since Naked Pizza was established as a franchise company, our journey has taken us from one corporate owned store to Dubai – a sort of Vegas meets Constantinople – where we’ve established our beachhead for international expansion.