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Baskin-Robbins offers Express and expansion.

Baskin-Robbins has launched BR Express, a scaled-down version of the chain's ice-cream stores. The units are approximately 200 square feet in size. The launch of the Express concept follows by a month the announcement by Friendly Ice Cream Corp. that it would test a fast-casual restaurant format under the Express label. Baskin-Robbins reports that its Express will feature Baskin-Robbins' soft-serve ice cream product only in six to eight proprietary flavors as well as a variety of mix-ins available on a rotating basis. The chain's signature beverages will also be available.

The express units are intended for locations where a small footprint is a key, such as airports. The first test units have been placed in locations in New York, Wisconsin, and Florida with more to come in other Southeastern states. Baskin-Robbins anticipates a wider rollout in 2009.

Baskin-Robbins has also indicated that it plans to add more units in its upscale Cafe 31 fast-casual ice-cream format (described in the September 2008 Ice Cream Reporter). A 2,000-square-foot prototype, serving fondues, cakes and other treats prepared by an in-store pastry chef, opened in Patriot Place, a retail and restaurant complex adjacent to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.

In addition to its U.S. efforts, Baskin-Robbins is also expanding its operations in China. The company reportedly has opened its first two locations in Shanghai with a third shop to open in that city in late February, its 47th in that country. Baskin-Robbins reports that it has more than 2,000 shops in Asia, including 929 in Japan, 714 in Korea and 27 in Beijing.

Baskin-Robbins granted franchise rights to Shaanxi Stellerich Food & Restaurant Co. in 2008 to develop 100 shops in the Shanghai Municipality and Zhejiang Jiangsu and Shaanxi Provinces over the next 10 years. Shaanxi Stellerich is also a franchise partner with Baskin-Robbins' sister brand, Dunkin' Donuts, in Guangdong Province. "We are thrilled to share Baskin-Robbins' fun environment with the Shanghai community," said Frank Sun, Chairman of Shaanxi Stellerich, B-R Licensee partner. "We are proud to be partnering with Baskin-Robbins and play a role in expanding the awareness and recognition of this great brand."

"Passionate and dedicated licensees and franchisees are the key components to Baskin-Robbins' success, and the Shaanxi Stellerich team clearly reflects these characteristics," said Srinivas Kumar, Chief Brand Officer of Baskin-Robbins Worldwide. He continued, "Baskin-Robbins has always been very strong in Asia, leading the market in Japan, South Korea and South East Asia. We believe that the people of Shanghai will also embrace what Baskin-Robbins has to offer, and look forward to continued expansion and success in the market."

In addition to its China openings, Baskin Robbins reports it has opened its 100th store in the United Arab Emirates at the Dubai Marina Mall. Food Business Review notes that forty more store openings have been planned for the UAE in 2009, including some in the Cafe format and some of the new Express units.

Back on the domestic front, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that Baskin-Robbins plans to add 60 new stores in and around Atlanta over the next several years. The company currently has four locations in metro Atlanta and 35 stores across Georgia.
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Publication:Ice Cream Reporter
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Feb 20, 2009
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