Domino’s Pizza has announced that Kevin Vasconi, who joined the company as its CIO in 2012, will retire effective October 2. Domino’s chief technology officer (CTO), Kelly Garcia, will take over as the top tech leader of the company, which has a $16 billion market cap.
Vasconi and Garcia, who also joined Domino’s in 2012 and became its CTO last year, have worked closely together to turn it into something of a poster child for the digital transformation movement. In a world where software is said to be eating everything, the company’s IT division has taken code and used it to redefine how people get to eat their favorite slices.
The division’s work has helped turn Domino’s into the world’s largest pizza business when ranked by retail sales and has enabled it to keep growing during the Covid-19 pandemic while many other fast food companies are struggling.
Your pizza’s in the trunk
Domino’s suite of 18 different digital-ordering platforms, covering everything from digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa to applications such as Slack, makes it easy for people to send in requests for food without having to set foot inside a physical store. They can also pick up pizzas without having to get out of their cars. The company’s “carside delivery service” lets a customer use an app to signal they have arrived outside a store. An employee can then come out and directly place the food order into the trunk of the customer’s vehicle.
Contactless services such as this one as well as other digital initiatives have helped Domino’s expand during the Covid-19 crisis, with some three quarters of its U.S. sales now coming via digital channels. In the second quarter of 2020, the company’s same store U.S. sales grew 16.1% and its total worldwide revenue rose 13.4% year-over-year, hitting $929 million.
Domino’s share price, which closed at $413.54 on September 23, has risen almost 28% since the beginning of April. The company recently said its own stores in the U.S. and those run by franchisees are looking to fill 20,000 full and part-time jobs to cope with growing appetite for its products.
Different reporting lines
Unlike Vasconi, who reported directly to Domino’s CEO Ritch Allison, Garcia will report to Russell Weiner, the company’s chief operating officer. Tim McIntyre, who heads communications for Domino’s, said in an email to Forbes that Weiner has operations, marketing and other areas reporting to him and that “creating a cohesive team that also includes technology was the primary impetus for this reporting change.” (Domino’s declined to make either Vasconi or Garcia available for interview.)
McIntyre also said in the email that regardless of reporting lines, Garcia is considered a member of the company’s senior leadership team. In a press release announcing the change, CEO Allison said Domino’s was “extremely proud” to have the CTO take over the reins of the company’s 400-person IT division. The unit is being rebranded internally as “Domino’s Technology” to put even greater emphasis on its strategic role.
That role has undoubtedly influenced investment analysts’ views of the company’s stock. In a recent report, Andrew Charles of Cowen & Co. raised his share price target for Domino’s and hailed the “off-premise oriented, digitally-led business model” that had enabled it to “execute strongly” during the first six months of the pandemic. It will be up to Garcia to help Domino’s repeat that performance in the equally challenging months that lie ahead.