Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, riding a three-year same-store sale growth streak, opened its first shop in South Korea on March 31. Located in Cheonan City, it is the first of a 10-unit development agreement signed last year with Seoul-based Lee & Bruster’s Inc. The two-story, 50-seat shop features an outdoor terrace, and several rooms where guests can relax and recharge electronic devices. To introduce the brand, Bruster’s gave away free ice cream cones to 1,700 first-day guests, far exceeding its 1,000-guest goal. The most popular flavors were mint and coffee, as well as ones with Oreos. In addition to Bruster’s standard flavors, the location will test new ones, such as red bean, lychee, and honeydew.
Hye Young Lee, CEO of Lee & Bruster’s Inc., which was created to develop the brand in South Korea, first became a Bruster’s fan while living in Atlanta. Initial reaction to the brand has been extremely positive. “Guests love the taste, texture, and freshness of the products,” Lee says. “Many posted pictures on Facebook and Instagram, saying how much they enjoyed the ice cream and the store’s atmosphere.”
Lee added that guests were surprised to learn Bruster’s Real Ice Cream has existed in the United States for over 25 years, yet it was just arriving in Korea. They were equally astonished the first location opened outside of Seoul. Cheonan City is approximately an hour south of the capital. The company plans to open a second location this summer. Options include a food-court kiosk with a limited menu.
Bruster’s locations have been shattering sales records. Same-store sales for 2015 were up 10.4 percent, the largest single jump ever, with transactions up nearly 6 percent, also a record. First quarter 2016 comp-sales are up 23.45 percent, making for the 12th consecutive quarter of growth. The chain already operates two international locations in Guyana.
“This is a key step as we continue to expand the brand domestically and globally,” says Bruster’s CEO Jim Sahene. “Bruster’s always has focused on selling a unique, premium product which appeals to ice cream lovers everywhere. Our goal is to grow with the right franchise partners in the right markets, whether here in the U.S. or abroad.”