Sales and growth are heating up at Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, even though the frozen-yogurt industry is showing signs of cooling off. The 200-unit, franchised premium frozen treat chain, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, is enjoying its sixth straight quarter of same-store sales growth, with some markets up as much as 13.1 percent over last year. It is the chain’s best performance in 12 years.
"The comprehensive turnaround plan launched in early 2013 is delivering dramatic results," says chief executive Jim Sahene. "To experience steady comp-store sales and traffic growth at a time when the restaurant industry as a whole continues to struggle—not to mention the explosion of frozen yogurt competitors—is truly remarkable."
Bruster’s performance is driving its re-energized franchise development program. Current franchisees have signed agreements for new locations in Northern Virginia and for a second unit in the nation of Guyana. A new franchisee also will open a shop in St. Augustine, Florida, by year-end.
The U.S. locations and Guyana will make use of Bruster’s new year-round prototype. Launched earlier this year in Savannah, Georgia, the new design features indoor seating and an expanded menu, creating a four-seasons sales opportunity.
Sahene attributes Bruster’s strong sales to new product introductions, improved operations, and a fully integrated marketing plan, which includes regular limited-time offers, an aggressive social media and public relations strategy, formation of advertising co-ops, and a refreshed focus on local community marketing. "Bruster’s franchisees have really stepped up and driven the turnaround," Sahene says. "They have worked with us to evolve the concept, and in the process, proven that ice cream, especially fresh ice cream, is here to stay."
"Our growth in sales and transactions signals to me that customers enjoy the value and great tasting products we provide,” says Bruster's franchise owner Scot Reed. “Bruster's is a neighborhood gathering place, and it feels great to see families visiting again and again."
Along with growing sales, Bruster’s was voted No. 1 in the "Likely to Return" and "Likely to Recommend" categories, as well as No. 3 “Overall” among frozen treats in the nationwide 2014 Consumer Picks awards.