Pizza firm franchise owners hold crisis meeting

Michael said the presence of senior management, coupled with telephone calls to operators all day yesterday urging them not to attend the newly formed association’s meeting, is a scare tactic. “What we would like to also do is to meet in private without…

The Toronto Star
January 19, 1993

Pizza firm franchise owners hold crisis meeting
Caroline Mallan

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Amid fear of reprisals from head office, Pizza Pizza franchise owners met at a Mississauga hotel last night to plan a strategy to save their businesses.

Senior management from the huge pizza company greeted about 80 individual operators at the door – a move operators say was meant to intimidate their association members, who are joining together to oppose a lack of access to the company’s finances which they contribute to.

After a three-hour closed door meeting, operators emerged calling for immediate access to records and an end to intimidation by the owners.

“We have a situation where Pizza Pizza has refused to provide us with financial information pursuant to our franchise agreement,” said Dave Michael who runs an Orillia franchise.

Michael said the presence of senior management, coupled with telephone calls to operators all day yesterday urging them not to attend the newly formed association’s meeting, is a scare tactic.

“What we would like to also do is to meet in private without fear of repercussions from the franchisor,” he said.

John Sotos, lawyer for the association, said one operator was told that attendance at the meeting would amount to “1001 ways to make your life miserable.”

Lorn Austin, the company’s executive vice-president who was standing at the hotel entrance before last night’s meeting, stormed out the door and said he would not be making any comment when approached by The Star.

But Austin, accompanied by two other Pizza Pizza employees, returned a short while later to answer questions. He said he had been invited to attend the meeting and did not understand why he was turned away.

“I just don’t know,” he said. “I’m here to lend some comfort to the whole system.”

Austin said the real problem operators are facing is not the operating fees and food changes levied by Pizza Pizza’s head office, but the recession’s toll on the industry.

Austin denied any attempt to threaten franchise owners and added that supplies would only be cut off if bills were not being paid.

Several operators, who will only speak on condition of anonymity for fear of having their supplies cut off by head office, said members are being threatened with being shut down if they oppose the company’s fees.

The pizza company’s phone order system with its central number means head office can cut any store out of all the orders for its area.

Meanwhile, striking Pizza Pizza order-takers voted overwhelmingly Sunday to reject the company’s latest offer, which would have allowed only 10 of 54 workers to keep their jobs in a strike action that dates back to Oct. 5.


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Risks: Dave Michael & Tony Fammartino, Lorn Austin, Lorne Austin, Lawrence Austin, Fear of poverty, Franchisee association, independent, Must buy only through franchisor (tied buying), Unsophisticated tyranny, Dissident leaders, Retaliation, Intimidation, Short- or forced-shipping, Bank account access by franchisor, Canada, 19930119 Pizza firm

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