20 July 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Cork Business Growth: Just 7 months ago… at the start of 2020, Saturday Pizzas Ltd employed 5 people now they employ 8, and plans to recruit 2 more over the summer. Inded, by the end 2023, they’re projecting that 20 will be employed.
Saturday Pizzas is planning to take a bigger slice of the frozen pizza market in Ireland, after opening its new factory in Little Island with the support of Cork County Council’s Local Enterprise Office.
Established in 2007 by German food entrepreneur and Ballymaloe Cookery School trainer, Philip Dennhardt, sales of Saturday Pizzas jumped 150% in the first half of this year, as consumers increased their spend on groceries during Covid-19 restrictions.
The Irish company, which makes Margherita and Pepperoni pizzas by hand, currently employs 8 with plans to grow staff numbers to 20 over the next three years. Its pizzas are baked in wood-fired ovens before being flash frozen and are on shelves inseveral SuperValu, Spar, MACE and independent supermarkets.
Starting out 13 years ago with a pop-up pizzeria on Saturdays, Dennhardt, who learned the art of pizza-making in Rome, was producing 300 pizzas a day with his team at the company’s original food production unit in Shanagarry. Thanks to a Business Expansion Grant from Cork County Council’s Local Enterprise Office South Cork this year, Saturday Pizzas is now producing 750 pizzas a day from itsnew2,000 sq ft unit in Little Island, boosting production capacity by 120%.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley, is delighted to see businesses thriving in these unprecendented times.
“We know businesses have struggled in recent months, but success stories of expansion such as Saturday Pizza showcase the resilience and optimism of our local companies, and are a strong indicator of the economic recovery we can hope for in the locality and further afield. When the public were asked to stay home to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, supermarket sales rose dramatically.And at the same time, there was a big push to support Irish food and drink producers. As a result, Cork County Council’s Local Enterprise clients in the food and drink sector, including Saturday Pizzas, got an unexpected sales boost as many consumers were trying their products for the very first time.”
Breaking into international markets is also on the menu, according to Philip Dennhardt:
“Our vision is to grow the ‘Saturday Pizzas’ brand into overseas markets. Growing can be uncomfortable but leaving the comfort zone is the challenge we are happy to face. We are very excited for the business to continue prospering and the support of our Local Enterprise Office has been invaluable. It is very reassuring to know that others believe in your business too and that is giving us the confidence to invest and grow.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, highlighted how the Council’s Project ACT initiative is supporting the reactivation of county towns with a strong focus on the value of backing local businesses;
“Cork County Council provides a wide range of services to support industry across the Cork County area, fostering local employment and encouraging investment in the area. Saturday Pizza is a wonderful example of strong entrepreneurial spirit, and the success that can be acheived, even in these uncertain times, by availing of the Council’s assistance programmes”.
Local Enterprise Office South Cork in Cork County Council supported Saturday Pizzas Ltd with a €40,000 Business Expansion Grant and business mentoring. The first instalment of the Business Expansion Grant was paid to Saturday Pizzas Ltd in May 2020 to assist with the fit-out of the new pizza factory in Little Island.
The Head of Enterprise with Cork County Council Local Enterprise Office South Cork, Sean O’Sullivan, believes that Saturday Pizzas is on track to become a household name in Ireland.
“Now that Saturday Pizzas has opened its new factory and doubled production, they’re set to reach more supermarkets and consumers than ever before, backed by their Local Enterprise Office.”
Further information about the supports available to small businesses, such as training, mentoring and financial grants, is available at www.LocalEnterprise.ie
About Philip Dennhardt
The son of a master butcher, Philip was born in Germany and followed in his father’s footsteps before he became more interested in cooking than butchering. He makes his own cheese, smokes his own food and for several years ran a cupcake business before switching his focus to pizza. Philip went to Italy for a season to learn the art of pizza-making in Rome. Afterwards, interested in how modern gourmet pizzas have evolved, he went to California and worked in one of America’s most famous pizza restaurants – Pizzaiolo Oakland. Philip moved to Ireland in 2005 and set up Saturday Pizzas in 2007.