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VOL. 129 | NO. 60 | Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tasty Transformation

Baskin-Robbins debuts new flavors, fresh look for stores

By Amos Maki

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Goodbye, “31 Flavors.” Hello, “40 Flavors.”

Baskin Robbins employee Anna Lee scoops some strawberry cheesecake ice cream at the new Houston Levee Road location  in Cordova, the first in the area with the franchise’s new store concept.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

A new Baskin-Robbins store at 1168 N. Houston Levee Road in Cordova is the first in the Memphis area to feature a new store concept, including offering 40 different frozen flavors instead of the traditional 31.

“It’s a completely new look,” said franchisee Rishi Chopra, 30. “When you build a new store this is what you have to do and we have the first one that has been built. It’s amazing.”

While the store has been open for several weeks, Chopra is holding a grand opening celebration Friday, March 28, at 3 p.m. that will include a ribbon cutting, refreshments and free ice cream.

Baskin-Robbins, which is owned by Dunkin’ Brand Group Inc., says the new look of the stores is designed to produce a more contemporary feel without losing the fun of an ice cream parlor.

The ice cream chain, which was founded in 1945 and grew into the world’s largest ice cream store chain, is seeking to emerge from a deep freeze that saw new store deliveries slide to historic lows in recent years.

The most notable change might be the modernized store design, which first appeared in foreign markets last year.

The new design is built around five core elements, including a newly designed menu board system with LCD screens, ice cream “super graphic” artwork, a wall that highlights the brand’s legacy of flavors, an updated brand logo and accents of the company’s well-known pink spoons throughout stores, including spoon-shaped door handles.

There’s less pink and blue – the company’s legacy colors – throughout the new stores. The new design includes light brown wallpaper with splashes of raspberry and the names of the Baskin-Robbins ice creams. Chopra’s 1,300-square-foot store features all the new elements, including a new screen that features family movies.

“They’re shying away with the childish pink and blue look,” Chopra said. “It’s really a whole new modern theme.”

In an effort to infuse new life into the brand, Baskin-Robbins is pursuing several growth strategies.

Baskin-Robbins announced in February that it would begin selling ice cream and other frozen treats in supermarkets and grocery stores, the first time the company’s packaged ice cream will be sold in grocery stores across the U.S.

Last year Baskin-Robbins introduced a range of premium ice cream cakes, called the Signature range, to help improve franchisee sales of non-cup and cone products. Baskin-Robbins has also sought to increase its secondary focus on beverages, including the launch of yogurt smoothies made with real fruit.

In June, Baskin-Robbins announced incentives for new stores and expansions, remodels and relocations for existing franchisees. Baskin-Robbins expects over 300 new and remodeled franchise locations to debut the new store design over the next several years.

Chopra said his family owns two other local Baskin-Robbins locations, one at Poplar Avenue and Marketplace Boulevard in Collierville and another near Poplar Avenue and Highland Street in Memphis, and that he’s excited about the company’s growth strategy.

“It’s new, exciting and so far it’s been awesome, just overwhelming,” Chopra said.

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