Yogen Früz is an international chain of frozen yogurt and smoothie stores that also serves healthy alternative food products. Through company-owned, franchised, and non traditional partnerships, Yogen Früz is the largest franchisor and licensor of stores and other locations that serve primarily frozen yogurt.
Yogen Früz was founded in 1986 by brothers Michael Serruya and Aaron Serruya, the former of whom had witnessed the success of frozen yogurt dessert shops in the United States. They first approached several U.S.-based yogurt businesses in the hope of establishing an American franchise in Canada, but for a variety of reasons, including the fear that business would be low during the cold Canadian winters, were rejected. Subsequently, the Serruya brothers, then aged 18 and 20, used their personal resources and a loan from their father to develop their own franchise concept. Aaron worked with a food technician to develop the frozen yogurt, while Michael consulted a Canadian design firm on the brand concept. They eventually opened Yogen Früz's first outlet, a prototype store, in August 1986 at the Promenade Mall in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada. The umlaut over the "u" in the store's name is an example of foreign branding.
The store offered made-to-order frozen yogurt in cups as well as frozen shakes mixed with fresh fruit, and was successful. The brothers repaid the loan from their father within six months, and within a year the company's first franchises opened in London, Ontario. More shops opened in Canadian shopping malls, and in 1989 Yogen Früz franchised its 100th store. A younger brother, Simon, joined the company in 1989 at the age of 18, while their father sold his typesetting business to oversee offices in Europe.
In December 2005, International Franchise Corp. acquired Yogen Früz and CoolBrands International's franchise division.
Today, the company serves proprietary probiotic frozen yogurt, both mixed with fruit(s) and soft serve, and both dairy and non-dairy smoothies. It is the largest franchiser of stores serving primarily frozen yogurt, with over 1,400 locations operating in more than 46 countries. The company aims to brand itself as a healthy-choice lifestyle product, and focuses on market innovation and leadership, and global expansion.
Business strategy and organization
The Serruya brothers have used international agreements to spread Yogen Früz's stores internationally, as "master franchisees" can obtain the rights either to open stores directly or sell franchise licenses to others. It has become one of the few Canadian companies to globalize. Master franchisees are usually required to open a minimum number of outlets each year. Master franchises are granted for periods varying between ten and twenty years, and are usually renewable for an additional period of ten to twenty years. Additionally, Yogen Früz used a non-traditional method of expansion involving co-branding, which allowed for the mingling of Yogen Früz products with other known food services by way of "mini-counters" in established stores. As of 2008, master franchise agreements and co-branding remain Yogen Früz's main business it is.
The Serruya brothers sought expansion overseas rather than compete in the United States, because frozen yogurt dessert shops had already neared market saturation in the United States in the 1980s, and, unlike today, the average consumer was then neither familiar with nor accepting of the taste of yogurt. In early 1995 Yogen Früz franchisees operated 170 outlets in Canada, which comprised 80 percent of the frozen yogurt market in Canada. As of 2007, Yogen Früz has over 1,200 stores operating in over 25 countries including Argentina (coming soon), Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, China, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Macau (coming soon), Malaysia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Pakistan, Panama (coming soon), Peru (coming soon), Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
The company announced master franchise deals for Florida, Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Georgia, and Hawaii. Currently, the company has shops in California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., as well as shops coming soon to Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, and North Carolina.
Yogen Früz stores help build brand identity as they are placed in carefully selected, high-traffic locations. The design of the stores are well-known and improve business efficiency. The company's store concept is also flexible, and can be applied to small and large outlets in both malls and free-standing stores. New retailing ideas, such as for portable cart-type merchandisers, and cross-promotion arrangements with large international franchisors in related businesses, are under development.
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