On a recent visit to Australia, Neal Courtney, the global CEO for Famous Brands International gave the local Australian Mrs. Fields business a big tick of approval for innovation and store design. Famous Brands owns both the Mrs. Fields and TCBY (Frozen Yogurt) brands globally with over 900 locations in 33 different countries.
“Australia is one of our oldest international markets with the first of our Mrs. Fields stores opening here over 25 years ago.” commented Courtney “but it still leads the way for us in innovation and store design. This is one of the most competitive retail environments and for our new Mrs. Fields Bakery Cafe’s to be showing double digit sales growth is a credit to our local licencee.
Mrs. Fields in Australia is locally owned and operated by Managing Director, Andrew Benefield. After many years working with some major US based brands such as KFC, Pizza Hut and Caltex (Chevron Texaco) he knows that the Australian market is similar but different to the US.
Take coffee buying habits for example, in the US the shopping malls do not open until after 10am, and by then most centre employees and customers have already stopped for coffee on the way to work. Hence coffee will never be as significant in a US shopping Centre business unlike Australia, where it is an important part of the local Mrs. Fields business with most malls open at 8:30am.
The competitive nature of the Australian market has lead to the local development of the Mrs. Fields Bakery Cafe, which offers an expanded range of baked treats and savouries in addition to coffee. The new look stores are doing very well with another four confirmed to open later this year, to bring the total to at least 36 by year end.
Famous Brands also continues to grow, Neal and his international team left Australia to sign contracts for Malaysia and Vietnam before heading to store openings in China and Hong Kong.