By Aimee Chanthadavong

After launching its Australian flagship store at Manly, NSW, in October 2009, ice creamery Ben & Jerry’s is now looking to expand its retail footprint with the launch of its franchise business.

Less than 100 stores are expected to open, with the company highlighting that it will be selective in the destinations for its franchise stores.

“We don’t want to become too much of a commodity. We don’t want to be on every street corner and we want to make sure our Scoop Shops remain destination stores. For example, people told us they drove for four or five hours to get to Free Cone Day in Melbourne, recently,” Johnny Hammond, Ben & Jerry’s Australian brand manager, told RetailBiz.

“And that’s what we want to continue doing; our store rollout plan is currently focused on high traffic locations with the right demographic in major cities on the eastern sea board. So there are only handful of places in Australia that we could pick.”

According to the company, its stores will focus on targeting 18 to 35 year olds in the higher income bracket who are keen on exploring new flavours and can assist in spreading the news about its stores through word of mouth.

“We’ve worked quite closely with Hoyts and managed to make that relationship work well, similarly with Movie World on the Gold Coast. The franchise model has also worked really well overseas and it’s a great way to help spread the brand and also have Ben & Jerry’s people involved in their local communities. That’s a big focus for us, for our people to be involved in their community and being socially responsible,” Hammond said.

Hammond also said that expanding Ben & Jerry’s presence in Australia is in response to local consumers that have been requesting for more store openings.

“I think Australians are travellers. Being down this end of the world we often travel overseas to experience new things,” he said.

“The awareness we had amongst consumers before we launched in Australia was quite high. There was greater awareness in Sydney, Melbourne and other key cities but a lot of consumers knew about us and loved us. They’ve had Ben & Jerry’s overseas and since launch, people have continued to ask us, 'when are you going to bring this flavour out and when are you going to open a store here?'"