Rome, Mar 24 (IANS): One of the world's largest pizza chains, the US-based Domino's Pizza, has formally given up on its aspirations of gaining a foothold in the country that invented pizza.
The company closed its last stores in Rome and Milan last year, and, according to media reports on Thursday, the company's Italian franchise partner, ePizza, has begun the process of liquidating the company's Italian assets in the hope of recovering at least part of the initial investments.
The company's Italian website was no longer operating as of Thursday and its final posts on social media accounts date back to last year, Xinhua news agency reported.
Calls to ePizza went unanswered on Thursday, but when contacted by Xinhua, the US press office of Domino's Pizza confirmed the media reports on the company's withdrawal from Italy.
According to largest.org, a data site, Domino's is the largest pizza chain in the world, with $12.3 billion in global annual revenue. But the 63-year-old company never managed to gain traction in Italy.
The company launched in Italy in 2015 with plans to open up to 880 stores in the country. But at its peak, it operated only 29 locations.
The origins of pizza are opaque, though there are records from the times of antiquity of soldiers making flatbread with toppings on their shields. A poem from ancient Rome that dates back to the first-century BC, mentions locals frying bread and cheese on hot ashes, calling it "pinsa," a word still used today for certain kinds of Roman pizza.
But the modern pizza is thought to date back to the 18th century in Naples, where the dish was a hearty staple for the poor.