Gelato franchise ramps up expansion

Gelatissimo_Kat Parker Photographer (5 of 106)Gelato franchise, Gelatissimo, is targeting 16 new stores over the next two years.

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Popular gelato brand, Gelatissimo, is aiming to grow its network to 50 stores up and running within the next two years.

Currently, Gelatissimo has 34 stores operating across NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, and is set to open a further four over the next few months, marking this its biggest expansion plan to date.

In addition to having secured its first Western Australia store with a property set to open in Fremantle, Gelatissimo’s other new stores will be in Kirribilli and The Rocks, both in Sydney, and Rockhampton in Queensland. It also opened an outlet in Cronulla, Sydney in October this year.

Fred Pose, Gelatissimo’s franchise development manager, told Inside Retail Weekly that, looking ahead, the franchise chain was concentrating its expansion efforts in Perth, Queensland and Melbourne.

“We are not focusing on Sydney, which we see as pretty much saturated, unless we come across something outstanding,” he said. “We are also looking at some large regional areas that we think will work for us, and we are pretty close to doing deals on those.

“But we are looking at doing things in a considered way. We don’t want to open a whole bunch of stores and have a bad franchise network.”

Expansion, he added, would be via a mix of franchised outlets, corporate stores and a program called “manage to own”, where Gelatissimo looks for strong, committed managers in its network and its funds them to buy their own business. At present, four of its outlets are corporate stores.

“We haven’t closed the door on either the corporate or franchise avenue,” said Pose. “We will use both. But we are intentionally being aggressive at the moment on finding the right locations. We are very selective in what we are going for to make the format work both from a price and franchisee’s perspective.”

Creating gelato hubs
Pose said Gelatissimo’s edge was its drive to provide customers with as healthy a treat they can get. It uses no artificial colours or flavours and makes its own gelato at each store.

He said Gelatissimo’s store design was always evolving, with the look of the stores being modernised to appeal to a wider range of people, including families and a younger demographic.

The new store at The Rocks in Sydney would showcase the next version of a Gelatissimo store. “It will encourage people to come in and hang out, rather than quickly getting the ice-cream and leaving,” Pose explained.

A key focus, too, is accessibility. As an example, Gelatissimo opened its Eat in Dessert store last year in Watsons Bay and has since expanded to Adelaide, creating options that complement the alternative kiosk and shop front options.

“We have found that because of the different models of our stores, we can succeed in a number of different environments,” Pose opined. “We understand and care about our customers’ needs, and always look for locations, which have the right foot traffic and drivers for our stores.”

The chain also has a lot of flexibility in terms of target demographic and how it markets to it.

“We are in a large space – we target pretty much everybody, because gelato suites every age group. But we do it in different ways.

“Selling gelato is definitely a bricks and mortar business, but our presence online has increased massively over the past two and a half years. We are on all the social platforms. We use dedicated social media marketing people and agencies. We follow a clear strategy to drive traffic to our bricks and mortar business.”

In the past, Gelatissimo ran four promotions a year, in which a large range of new flavours were introduced into its stores.

“Operationally, franchisees said it was difficult to implement,” noted Pose. “Now we launch new flavours every month, but it’s only one or two. This is much easier to manage – and it keeps us on our toes as we have to be more creative more often. We also now have a full-time product development person.”

Founded in 2002, Gelatissimo has grown into one of the largest gelato franchises in the world. The brand has an established presence in Australia, Singapore, The Philippines, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. On December 5, it hopes to break the world record for the most people eating gelato – over 3000 people – at the same time in Manly, Sydney.

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