Founded in 2002, Australian gelato brand ‘Gelatissimo’ today is one of the world’s largest gelato franchises. In an interview, Marco Lopresti, Joint CEO, Gelatissimo shares brand’s development in Kuwait and worldwide.
Namita Bhagat (NB): Brief us on the foundation of the concept of ‘Gelatissimo’?
Marco Lopresti (ML): After successfully establishing a wholesale gelato business, I along with Domenico Lopresti who is the joint CEO, Gelatissimo, saw an opportunity to enter the retail market in Australia. In 2002 the first Gelatissimo concept gelateria was opened in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. It was an immediate success and a number of outlets soon followed.
Initially the outlets were company owned but it soon became oblivious that the brand was well suited to a franchise model. Since 2002, Gelatissimo has expanded to 40 locations worldwide and is one of the world’s largest gelato franchises.
NB: What is the USP of the brand? What factors are responsible for its success so far?
ML: We credit Gelatissimo with a number of factors for its success. Firstly, it is our commitment to quality and making a consistently excellent product made fresh in every one of our gelaterias daily. Our quality artisan gelato is not only delicious but also eye catching, with our unique displays of luscious gelato mounds drawing customers into our gelaterias.
Our strict criteria for granting franchises ensures that all franchise owners have the same dedication to excellence in our product and presentation, accompanied by warm personalities who enjoy giving exceptional customer service. Our simple system ensures that it is easy to follow the rules and comply with the high level of Gelatissimo standards. Besides, comprehensive initial training, all franchisees are also provided on-going training to keep them up to date with new products and innovative customer service techniques. The in house marketing team helps franchise owners with local area marketing and promotions.
Most of all we listen to our franchise owners and give them support. When they join Gelatissimo they are not a number but a member of the family.
NB: The brand has opted franchise expansion model. What inspired you to select this model?
ML: Initially Gelatissimo was a company owned store model. But after sometime it became clear that the style of business was ideally suited to a franchise model. We found that because franchise owners had a vested interest, they took more pride in operating their gelatarias and the presentation of the gelato. Further, as Gelatissimo takes all of the complexity out of making the gelato it is easy for them to prepare the gelato fresh daily. Thus, they can focus on making the displays beautiful and attracting the customers. This results in better run gelatarias with higher average sales and a better model of profitability.
NB: Kindly share your current worldwide presence.
ML: Currently, we have 40 gelaterias worldwide. Most of them are franchised. In Australia most of the outlets are single unit franchises and a few are multi unit franchises. Three of our Australian gelaterias are company owned. Internationally, we have presence via master franchise model in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Kuwait, and in the home of gelato, Italy.
NB: Could you tell us about the brand’s Middle East foray via franchising?
ML: The master franchisee’s representatives saw the Gelatissimo franchise in the Philippines and recognised an immediate synergy for the product and model in Kuwait. They were already involved in the hospitality industry and saw the synergy with its existing business interests. They also recognised that this quality of product did not exist in Kuwait and were excited by the potential for the business in their country. They were particularly impressed with the quality of the product, its sweetness and the wide range of flavours.
NB: How did you decide to begin the brand development in the region from Kuwait? What potential does the market offer for ‘Gelatissimo’?
ML: Kuwait is a very franchise friendly country that has a great respect for the quality and professionalism of Australian franchise businesses. Our unique product offering would be a real first for Kuwait. We are willing and keen to develop flavours and varieties that would appeal to the local tastes. Also, the gelateria is a place of social gathering which is so much a part of the Kuwaiti way of life.
NB: You offer a niche product, so what are the growth challenges for the brand in the region?
ML: We are a niche product with a unique display method, so it is sometimes difficult to explain the benefits of taking a gamble on a new and different concept like Gelatissimo. Having said this, it also serves as an advantage because few other competitors do what we do. The seasonality of our product also poses a challenge, however the region’s hot climate works in our favour. However, we are confident that our Kuwait gelatarias will become destinations and less weather dependent.
NB: Kindly share the franchise facts for the Middle East.
ML: Gelatissimo internationally uses a master franchise (MF) model so that the local market knowledge can be utilised to its fullest potential. Our master franchise fee differs according the size of the territory and the potential for expansion that exists within the territory. Our MF fee includes all initial training, advice on gelataria setup and operation as well as an ongoing assistance and visits to the territory.
NB: What are the further expansion plans in the Middle East and other world markets?
ML: There are a number of sites in Kuwait already on the drawing board and we are also in talks with a number of other countries in the region but it is premature to discuss this at this time.
We can also say that we are in talks with other parties in areas worldwide with inquires currently under consideration from Asia, Europe and South Africa.
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