July 29, 2008

Baskin-Robbins Believes in Denver Ice-Cream Chain Plans to Open 60 More Metro Stores

By Joyzelle Davis

Baskin-Robbins, the world's biggest ice-cream chain, wants to bolster its presence in the Denver market, and has plans to open some 60 franchise locations in the area within the next few years.

Baskin-Robbins already has 13 locations around Denver and a total of 25 in the state, but that pales compared with the 500 stores Baskin-Robbins has in California.

Denver is a promising market because of its expected population growth combined with the high number of transplants from California and Texas who are already familiar with the brand, said James Franks, Baskin-Robbins' national director of franchising.

In a soft economy, "people may not go to Disneyland, but they will go to their local Baskin-Robbins. Or they may not go out to dinner and a movie but they'll get ice cream," he said. "It's a treat that's not going to break the bank."

Baskin-Robbins plans to hold a franchising seminar at the Denver Marriott Tech Center on Aug. 5 to talk to potential franchisees. Candidates must have the financial resources to open anywhere from two to 30 stores with a 20-year term, Franks said. The company usually requires a net worth of $300,000 and liquid assets of $100,000 for each new store, according to its Web site.

Baskin-Robbins was founded 62 years ago by brothers-in-law Irv Robbins and Burton Baskin, and today is owned by Dunkin' Donuts franchiser Dunkin' Brands. The company is known for offering 31 flavors at a time, or one for each day of the month, but has created more than 1,000 flavors, including Jamoca Almond Fudge and Nuts to You.

Baskin-Robbins' expansion comes as Cold Stone Creamery franchisees are retrenching around the country, with about 100 stores closing last year and 300 more for sale, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Jay Thompson, co-owner of Liks Ice Cream, said his business wasn't hurt by Cold Stone's move into the state years ago, and he doesn't worry about a bigger Baskin-Robbins presence, either. Liks, which wholesales its ice cream throughout the state and sells pints at supermarkets, opened a second shop in Centennial earlier this year and is looking for a third location.

"It's a fun business, but it's not as easy of a business as you might think," Thompson said. "It's feast or famine. Summer is great, but come January, February and March, you're thinking, 'Gee, why did I get into this?' "

Originally published by Joyzelle Davis, Rocky Mountain News.

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