A co-branded Tim Hortons and Cold Stone

A co-branded Tim Hortons and Cold Stone

Lisa Jennings reports at Nation’s Restaurant News that Cold Stone Creamery is pushing ahead with the growth of dual-branded units and new menu items to drive sales in 2010.

The more than 1,450-unit premium ice cream franchise chain has a slew of new products planned for 2010, including ice cream cookie sandwiches to be sold in four packs. It also plans to continue growing combined units with both candy maker Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Canada-based, fast-casual chain Tim Hortons.

Dual branding, product innovation and brand licensing have been key initiatives launched by Dan Beem, who stepped into the role of president at Cold Stone in late 2007, a few months after the brand merged with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Kahala Corp., a multi-brand franchisor with 12 foodservice brands in its portfolio.

In an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News on Thursday, Beem said economic headwinds took their toll last year, resulting in store closures that left the chain with a net loss of 16 locations. Sales, however, were only “slightly down” at the end of 2009 compared with the previous year.

“It was a rough year for everyone, but we fared better than most for the category,” said Beem.

Looking forward, new product introductions scheduled for this year and the success of dual-branded locations promises to spark new growth for the chain, he said.

In late 2008, Cold Stone announced the test of co-branding, combining the ice cream chain with both Rocky Mountain and with Tim Hortons locations.

Beem said existing franchisees who added products from either the Rocky Mountain or Tim Hortons brands increased their average unit volumes by between $75,000 and $100,000 last year.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with those relationships,” said Beem of the co-branding opportunities.

Cold Stone and Tim Horton’s

Tim Hortons, which is known for its premium coffee, baked goods, soups and sandwiches, tends to drive traffic during morning and midday hours, where ice cream tends draw customers in the afternoons and evenings. Together, the two brands allow for broader daypart sales.

Four of the U.S. units are Cold Stone locations offering Tim Hortons products, but the remaining 62 are Tim Hortons that have added Cold Stone Creameries.

The company expects to see another 30 dual-brand Tim Hortons/Cold Stone conversions this year, and the company is also looking for franchisees that will build ground up co-branded locations.

When asked whether Cold Stone would be looking for other brands for similar partnerships, Beem said, “I won’t rule out other co-brands, but there are none on the horizon right now. It’s rare to find two brand with comparable brand equity.”

Read the whole article from Nation’s Restaurant News  at:  Cold Stone Talks Dual-branding, New products