A Dylan's pizza box

Dylan’s Restaurants add perfect topping as SMART Innovation proves a ‘game-changer’

SMART Innovation helped Dylan's Restaurants:

  • Bring in automation to successfully diversify business
  • More than double weekly production of pizzas for the retail market
  • Expand staff numbers by a third

Dylan’s Restaurants – a family-owned pizza restaurant group based in North Wales – is forecasting significant growth in sales and staff, thanks to the support it received through the Welsh Government’s EU-funded SMART Innovation programme.

Dylan’s has three waterside restaurants in Gwynedd, Anglesey and Conwy with a central manufacturing unit, where it has traditionally offered a variety of seafood and handmade pizzas, using locally-sourced ingredients.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the company diversified its operations, starting with Dylan’s branded takeaway pizzas, before pivoting into the production and packaging of pizzas and sauces - inspired by the restaurants’ menus - that can be supplied to the retail sector.

The company contacted SMART Innovation in June 2020 - having heard about the scheme through Business Wales – to help with upscaling the business, primarily achieved through the provision of specialist skills and knowledge, and the integration of automation.

The results have been phenomenal. The company went from producing 700 pizzas a week by hand, to a peak of 2,000 a week in the summer of 2021. It currently has the capacity to produce 6,000 a week and in 2022, it’s forecasting to sell 66,000 pizzas.

Andy Foster, group executive chef at Dylan’s, said: “We couldn’t have done what we’ve managed to do without the support that we had. Restaurants were closed, people’s jobs and livelihoods were at stake, and we knew that we had to evolve and adapt.“

Having access to additional knowledge and skillsets through our contacts with the SMART Innovation programme was a game-changer.

“It was taking longer to wrap the pizzas and get them ready for sale than it was to produce them. So we brought in a completely new machine to wrap and seal the pizzas. We went from wrapping one a minute to wrapping nine a minute.”

The transition from purely handmade to semi-automation has seen Dylan’s pizzas retain a high-quality artisan finish and made it a viable product to sell to a wider market. The impressive sales figures has enabled the company to expand and provide the local community with a high street branch of Dylan’s.

David Retallick, digital marketing and communications at Dylan’s, said: “We already knew that we had a popular product, but it was about how we produce that for a retail market with the same consistency that we would do by hand, but an increased volume.”

The Welsh Government’s SMART Innovation programme has not only had a positive effect on the company’s sales, despite turbulent times, but also on jobs – as they look set to have a 300-strong staff count by spring 2023.

Mr Retallick added: “During a time when people were losing their jobs left, right and centre, not only were we not letting people go and making no redundancies, we were actually growing our team.

“Being able to support communities in North Wales through job creation is very important to us. We want to fill almost 100 new roles by this summer. This would not have been possible without support from SMART Innovation.”

Dylan's Restaurants
Dylan's Restaurants