Food franchises ‘must evolve to remain competitive’

Posted by Josette Dunn on 13th October 2010

Food franchises must evolve to remain competitive as consumers gravitate to products that can be customised to their individual tastes, an industry veteran says.


Stan Gordon, executive chairman of Melbourne-based Franchised Food Company (FFCo), which owns Cold Rock Ice Creamery, said consumers were drawn to products which allowed them to express their individuality in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace.

“Consumers are looking to be masters of their own ‘Youniverse’ and are gravitating to products that are personalised or can be customised to their individual tastes,” Mr Gordon said.

“They just aren’t interested in plain ice cream, but interested in what they can do with it.

“Australia is already the most franchised nation in the world on a per capital basis, so it’s vital that brands evolve to keep pace with changes such as technology, competition and consumer preferences to remain competitive.”

Mr Gordon said the Cold Rock brand, acquired by FFCo last year, was continually evolving by giving consumers more choice when it comes to flavours and ‘mix-ins’.

The Cold Rock premise is the ‘create your own’ experience of adding inclusions or mix-ins such as fruit and lollies to a large range of ice cream flavours. With over 3,000 flavour combinations possible, customers’ creations are mixed up in front of them on a refrigerated granite slab known as the ‘Cold Rock’.

“I don’t believe brands like Baskin-Robbins have evolved to where they should be,” Mr Gordon said.

“There’s no unique selling proposition and there’s no excitement about the Baskin-Robbins experience.

“Reports that they have been cutting back on the number of flavours in a bid to conserve cash also do nothing to build confidence in the brand. A system that cannot evolve cannot survive.”

Mr Gordon said he was “open to talks” with Baskin-Robbins franchisees if the brand followed in the footsteps of Cookie Man, which has gone into liquidation.

“We are open to talks about what we could do for franchisees, including potentially taking over the lease and rebranding to become Cold Rock,” Mr Gordon said.

“We are the biggest ice creamery in Australia so we’d be happy to consider making them part of the FFCo family.”

FFCo also owns Pretzel World, Nutshack and Mr Whippy. The group has more than 135 stores nationwide and annual revenue of more than $53 million.