CityPress - - Business - STEVE KRETZMANN busi­ness@city­

A premium prod­uct with a low en­try-level price is how Grand Parade In­vest­ments (GPI) hopes to melt the hearts of South African ice cream lovers when it in­tro­duces the mind-bog­gling ar­ray of Baskin-Rob­bins ice cream flavours in South Africa for the first time this week.

GPI, the gam­bling and fast food group, will open the first Baskin-Rob­bins ice cream par­lour in Cape Town’s Canal Walk mall on Fri­day, bring­ing South Africans a taste of the more than 1 300 flavours of­fered by the iconic US ice cream brand, which has be­come a favourite across 50 coun­tries.

The com­pany made the an­nounce­ment at its head of­fice in Cape Town this week, and the me­dia were in­vited to try a se­lec­tion of favourite flavours.

Al­though South Africans con­sume al­most 60 mil­lion kilo­grams of ice cream a year, ac­cord­ing to Euromonitor fig­ures cited by GPI, and have a num­ber of premium and ar­ti­sanal brands to choose from, GPI’s Grand Foods is not shy to en­ter a tightly con­tested fast food mar­ket. With Baskin-Rob­bins, the com­pany will be up against the likes of Häa­gen-Dazs and Gelato Ma­nia, and a grow­ing num­ber of ar­ti­sanal brands such as The Cream­ery and The Nice Com­pany.

Baskin-Rob­bins SA’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, Sean Dearham, be­lieves Bask­in­Rob­bins’ range, which will be ro­tated through par­lours 31 flavours at a time (one for each day of the month), to­gether with a prod­uct price of R19 for a scoop, will see them at­tract cus­tomers. “There are a lot of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional com­peti­tors pitched at premium brands,” ad­mits Dearham, “but we’ve no­ticed they price them un­com­pet­i­tively, so they’re al­most in­ac­ces­si­ble to most peo­ple.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, he says, they’ll of­fer milk shakes and pro­vide be­spoke ice cream cakes to or­der.

De­spite the num­ber of brands on the mar­ket, he be­lieves there is still “an ap­petite for ice cream”.

“There are queues out­side com­peti­tors’ doors at 8pm in Sea Point,” he says. How­ever, Peter Koe­horst, who has owned the pop­u­lar Ice Cafe in Kalk Bay for 16 years, be­lieves it’s all about hav­ing the shop in the right po­si­tion.

“Ice cream is fickle. It melts, you lose it, it’s dis­pos­able. It’s all about po­si­tion – peo­ple walk­ing past con­tin­u­ally un­til they can no longer re­sist it.”

Koe­horst says he’s not wor­ried about com­pe­ti­tion and that there is prob­a­bly space for some­thing new.

Part owner of ar­ti­sanal ice cream man­u­fac­tur­ers The Nice Com­pany Ch­erylle Cow­ley says they are not con­cerned about the com­pe­ti­tion be­cause they have a niche ar­ti­sanal mar­ket, and peo­ple are ac­cus­tomed to their cus­tard­based ice cream, in which they used real Bel­gian chocolate, and they pulp their own berries rather than re­ly­ing on flavour­ings and milk pow­ders.

“I thought that when Häa­gen-Dazs came to South Africa, that was the end of us, but it didn’t ac­tu­ally make a dent at all,” says Cow­ley.

Baskin-Rob­bins, which started out in Cal­i­for­nia in 1945, is renowned for taste in­no­va­tion – it de­vel­oped flavours such as lu­nar cheese­cake for the moon land­ing in 1969 and Shrek swirl in 2002 to com­mem­o­rate the hit an­i­mated movie.

GPI is look­ing to set up out­lets in sub­ur­ban nodes af­ter es­tab­lish­ing it­self in re­gional malls.

While GPI has to set up a min­i­mum of six out­lets within the first year, the 10-year deal with the Cal­i­for­nia-born brand, for which GPI paid a coun­try en­try fee of R3.4 mil­lion, re­quires that a fur­ther 65 stores and 850 re­tail points be es­tab­lished by 2026, says GPI CEO Alan Keet.

On top of the en­try fee, GPI pays the global brand a on­ce­off fee of R200 000 per store, net­ting Baskin-Rob­bins in the re­gion of R14 mil­lion over the 10-year pe­riod. Be­tween six and 10 peo­ple will be em­ployed per out­let.

To hon­our the re­tail re­quire­ments, Keet says GPI is still de­cid­ing whether it is bet­ter to give one large re­tailer an ex­clu­sive deal to sell the ice cream, which has to be im­ported, or choose a “strate­gic re­tailer and a petrol sta­tion part­ner”.

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