Domino's Pizza's 32 UK franchisees have been left in limbo following an announcement before Christmas that the firm's US head office had released its 5,300 stores worldwide from an obligation to offer a 30-minute delivery guarantee.
Ian Hyndman, franchise operations director for Domino's Pizza UK, said last week it was still unclear whether franchised stores had to remove the guarantee or if this action was optional. In the UK all 78 stores are franchised and, for the time being, many stores have suspended the guarantee, although others are continuing to offer it.
"We're awaiting clarification from the USA and we're trying to contact all the franchisees in this country to gain some sort of consensus. Obviously it's better if all the stores do the same thing," said Mr Hyndman.
The decision to end the contractual obligation to meet the guarantee followed a US court award of more than $78m (£52m) to a woman who suffered head and spinal injuries when a Domino's delivery van hit her car after jumping a red light.
But despite expectations that other pizza firms would follow the lead set by Domino's, both Perfect Pizza and Pizza Hut said they had no intention of removing the 30-minute guaranteed delivery in the UK.
Tony Sherriff, managing director of Perfect Pizza,told Caterer the company had worked closely withthe police traffic division to draw up guidelines on safe delivery driving.
Mr Sherriff explained that where a 30-minute delivery guarantee was offered, the journey time was actually 13 minutes. The guarantee was not offered where the journey took longer than that.
A spokesman for Pizza Hut said delivery drivers had to undergo eight hours of training with the Central School of Motoring and the delivery limits were restricted to a five-minute radius around stores to ensure pizzas arrived hot.
"Pizza Hut's 30-minute guarantee exists in response to customer demand," he said. "People want to know when they are going to get their pizza and they want it quickly as the decision to purchase is often made on impulse."