Ice cream chain Ben & Jerry’s comes to Australia with franchising plan

"With regards to how we roll out the locations in the company, we want to be very involved in the set-up of locations and make sure everything is running well. We will offer franchises in time at a rate at which we can support them."

http://www.smartcompany.com.au
August 4, 2009

Ice cream chain Ben & Jerry’s comes to Australia with franchising plan
Patrick Stafford

Iconic American ice cream retailer Ben & Jerry's will open its first Australian store in Sydney next month and will begin assessing opportunities to expand via franchising, according to brand manager Caroline Simpson.

She says franchises will be offered after initial locations in Sydney and Melbourne establish a strong enough brand awareness to allow the company to branch out.

"With regards to how we roll out the locations in the company, we want to be very involved in the set-up of locations and make sure everything is running well. We will offer franchises in time at a rate at which we can support them."

Ben & Jerry's began in the north-western US state of Vermont in 1978 by self-proclaimed ex-hippies Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, although both are no longer formally involved in day-to-day operations.

According to Entrepeneur.com, during 2008 the company had 417 franchises and eight company owned stores in the US. It reportedly had 19 Canadian franchised stores with 380 other franchises worldwide in countries such as India, Britain, Hong Kong, Israel and China.

The company is famous in the US for its involvement in social activism, as well as a heavy emphasis on using "green" products for its packaging and ice cream contents, with Simpson calling the move to Australia as a "natural fit".

"The Australian market has always been an area we'd love to be in. Australians are the third biggest eaters of ice cream in the world, so there's an obvious fit. Also, one-third of people in the 18-34 year old bracket have heard of us, so there's a lot of calling for the brand."

"Our focus launch areas will be around Sydney and Melbourne, and we will make sure we get things right in those areas first. After the launch of the first location, which will be opening in September, the view then is to grow the number of shops."

Simpson says the young target demographic has led the company to embark on a marketing strategy that will include popular social media forms such as Twitter and Facebook.

"Obviously within our target audience a lot operate on Facebook already. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter form a basic and fundamental part of how we communicate with people and drum up excitement."

Simpson also says the current economic climate played a part in the company's decision to move to Australia, with customers more likely to buy lower-priced confectionary goods.

"Ben & Jerry's is an affordable luxury. People are eating more confectionary and are bringing it home, so Ben & Jerry's fits very well into that."

Simpson believes the company's ethical mission will play a part in its success, as it will be working with Mission Australia to help provide jobs and job training for disadvantaged young people.

http://www.smartcompany.com.au/retail/20090804-ice-cream-chain-ben-a-jerrys-comes-to-australia-with-franchising-plan.html


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