By Mario Toneguzzi
Baskin-Robbins Canada opened its 100th location in Hamilton in the fall, building on a recent wave of renovations to existing stores and planning for continued expansion over the next few years - including possibly outside of its Ontario base.
“We’ve got great ingredients for growth and renewed success in Canada,” said Natalie Joseph, field marketing manager for Baskin-Robbins in Canada. “The Baskin-Robbins brand has a lot of loyal followers across the country and we absolutely love them back. There’s a lot of passion and energy in and for our Canadian operations. In the past few years, we’ve really increased our investments in Canada and it’s given us and our loyal fans something to celebrate.”
The company, the world’s largest chain of specialty ice cream shops, has in recent years remodelled and improved all its locations, embarked on new partnerships, and introduced innovations.
The company said its expansion is currently centred on Ontario but it is looking at numerous markets in other provinces.
“Our shops in Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver are doing well and we’re experiencing a steady stream of interest from franchisees throughout the country,” said Joseph.
“Right now, the focus is still within the Ontario market. So this year alone coming into 2019 we have eight new stores scheduled to open. That would be anywhere from Mississauga to Oshawa.
“We are on target to open 19 stores in the next two to three years - eight of them being in 2019. There is going to be discussions at some point in the next 12 to 18 months to look at expansion outside of Ontario.”
The first Baskin-Robbins store in Canada opened in 1971 and today the network of Baskin-Robbins franchisees across the country employ more than 1,000 Canadians. There are four locations in the Greater Montreal Area, one in Winnipeg, seven in British Columbia and the rest of the stores in Ontario.
The brand went through some tough times in 2010 and 2013 and adapted the look of its stores.
“At that point, there just needed to be a whole revamp, a refresh, of the brand for the brick and mortar look and feel. So the brand itself out of Canton (Massachusetts, its headquarters) decided to support the franchisees in the business and invest in a large sum of money to help get all of our locations renovated - complete renovations,” said Joseph.
“Just like any other brand or corporation, you move with the times. There’s a need to change decor. Appeal to your customers. Make it a more friendly environment and have an overall brand new look and feel.”
Over the past five years, Dunkin' Brands, parent company of Baskin-Robbins, has invested in its franchisees as well as renovating all locations across the country. These renovations included a complete redesign of its interior - new counters and display tables - as well an upgraded LED menu featuring a clean and slick design.
The company has also developed multi-year partnerships with groups such as Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, invested in local agencies and launched an assortment of Canadian promotions for National Ice Cream Month, Valentine’s Day and the back-to-school season.
Baskin-Robbins was founded in 1945.
The company says more than 300 million people around the world visit Baskin-Robbins each year to sample from the more than 1,300 flavour creations available in its ice cream library, as well as enjoy its full array of frozen treats including ice cream cakes.
“We have a lot of nostalgia. We have a lot of history. It seems to be a well-known brand. It just celebrated its 75th anniversary a couple of years back in the U.S. and the brand has been a staple in the country since the 70s,” added Joseph.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.