Retail in Asia


‘Pizza everywhere’: South Korea’s GoPizza chain eyes global expansion

Originally starting as a small food truck in South Korea in 2016, GoPizza has transformed into a food technology company renowned for its patented technology capable of baking ‘the perfect pizza’ with its own par-baked dough in under five minutes. The brand now operates approximately 200 outlets across the region, including Korea, India, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, with plans to expand further in South Korea in 2024. Over the next decade, GoPizza has set a goal of reaching 10,000 stores all over the world.

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Retail in Asia speaks with Jay Lim, global CEO of GoPizza, on the food brand’s ambitions in Asia and taking the company global. 

RiA: Can you tell us about your plans for GoPizza’s growth trajectory? Aside from GoPizza’s roots, why is now a good time to expand at this rate in South Korea, and which locations are you eyeing next?

Lim: GoPizza has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by our commitment to providing high-quality, freshly baked pizzas and addressing a specific customer problem: the limited accessibility of pizza due to cost, preparation time, and portion size. 

We plan to add around 30 standalone stores across our five main markets and 250-plus stores inside CVS and cinemas within this quarter, inching up to 500 stores globally. 

An outlet at Singapore’s Changi Airport Terminal 2. Source: GoPizza

As a Korean brand, the Korean wave marks a good opportunity for us to expand now. I believe our exponential expansion from this year’s roots are within us where we spent the last five to six years perfecting the product and the innovative operations on the backend. We felt confident in rolling out these initiatives since the fourth quarter of last year, and it’s gratifying to see major conglomerates like GS Retail and CJ CGV recognise and invest in our potential during the same period.

On top of that, the team’s commitment, substantial venture capital investment, and our innovative business model resonated well with the market, allowing us to further expand our footprint and cater to the evolving preferences of consumers.

Our future plans for GoPizza are ambitious and multifaceted. Firstly, we aim to secure a top three position in the pizza market within the next three years in the countries we currently operate in: Korea, India, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia. Additionally, we’re looking to expand our presence to new regions, particularly in Southeast Asia, but also eyeing opportunities in North America and potentially the Middle East.

GoPizza’s global CEO, Jay Lim. Source: GoPizza

Beyond geographical expansion, we are excited about diversifying our presence across various verticals—replicating our successful partnerships in Korea with convenience stores, gas stations, and cinemas in other countries. For instance, in Singapore, we recently embarked on a partnership with Cathay Cinema, similar to our collaboration with CGV in Korea, and the recent opening of our first GoPizza outlet at the FairPrice Finest Supermarket at Ang Mo Kio Central. We are also in talks with a major convenience store chain to introduce a model akin to our GS25 partnership outside Korea.

RiA: Tell us about the thinking behind strategic collaborations with leading brands like GS25 in South Korea and Cathay Cineplex in Singapore. 

Jay Lim: Our vision has always been to establish ourselves as the “Pizza Everywhere Company,” and our strategic collaborations with GS25 and our pilot launch with Cathay Cineplex in Singapore coupled with our recent expansion into NTUC FairPrice propelled us closer to realising this vision. These partnerships enable us to expand our presence beyond traditional restaurant outlets, reaching customers looking for convenient, delicious and fresh food options in diverse locations.

Our strategy encompasses both gradual store expansions and rapid, exponential growth through strategic partnerships. This approach is designed to cement our status as the “Pizza Everywhere Company” over the next five to ten years, ultimately achieving our mission to open 10,000 stores globally. This bold vision is underpinned by a scalable business model and a commitment to bringing our unique pizza experience to new markets and verticals worldwide.

Pictured: A GoPizza combo; a store in Suntec Singapore. Source: GoPizza

Significantly, our collaborations with various partners, such as GS25, South Korea’s leading convenience store chain, and CGV, the largest multiplex cinema chain in South Korea, allows for rapid scaling, potentially adding up to 1,000 stores in a very short timeframe. 

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RiA: GoPizza has achieved system-wide sales of approximately USD35 million in 2023 and now look to double global pizza sales to one million units by the end of 2024. How do you plan to reach that?

Lim: Not only are we intensifying our expansion efforts globally, we have also adopted a dual approach focusing on both the customer and supplier sides. 

On the supplier side, we tackle the challenges of high rental costs and labour shortages by optimising our operation’s efficiency. Our stores can operate in spaces as small as ten square metres or less, requiring only one person to manage the whole process while still being able to sell over a hundred pizzas. This operational model not only captures customer interest and favorability but also ensures profitability despite [Singapore’s] demanding market conditions.

Our ability to open over 100 stores in a month through these collaborations showcases a unique scaling potential that contributes to our sustainability and sets us apart in the industry. 

In Singapore and South Korea, many of our outlets are situated within convenience stores, petrol stations, and cinemas. These outlets are also compact at 50 square feet and only require two employees to run the operations. Our “shop in shop” strategy allows each outlet to absorb existing footfall, reducing investment costs and operating expenses, allowing us to turnaround quickly and eventually achieving our target milestone.