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Growing Lakehead-based donut chain sets its sights on Eastern markets.

Growing Lakehead-based donut chain sets its sights on Eastern markets

The first Robin's Donuts opened in Thunder Bay 16 years ago. Today more than 160 franchises have pushed annual sales to more than $50 million.

President Harvey Cardwell says franchising is the key to the company's success.

"We are great believers in the franchising system. It's served us very well. We pride ourselves in a strong franchise program and hardworking franchisees."

Cardwell says franchise success means following franchise procedures and systems exactly.

"You can't afford to neglect any areas."

Training is one area Robin's is paying special attention to with a new training centre opening in Thunder Bay this month.

Inside the training centre an actual Robin's Donuts store outlet helps new franchisees learn the ropes during the three-week initial training.

"We're looking at training at least 60 people in the first year, and many have never seen Thunder Bay, so it's great publicity for the city, even if the impact is marginal at first."

And Thunder Bay seemed the most logical place for the new training centre.

"Northern Ontario serves us better than southern Ontario, especially in operating costs. And Thunder Bay is the most central spot in Canada," says Cardwell.

Robin's Donuts already has a strong presence in Western Canada. Cardwell says the company is now hoping for the same success in Eastern Canada. The first Maritime outlet opens this month and three more are scheduled to open by spring.

The top performer in this province is the Marathon franchise, which Cardwell says came as quite a surprise.

"With a marginal population base, we didn't expect a record performer. But the majority of Marathon's population are working people, and working people are Robin's target market."

Cardwell says the company is now taking a different look at smaller centres because of Marathon's success. A new store opens in Sturgeon Falls next month, bringing the total number of Ontario franchises to close to 30.

Robin's Donuts growth pattern is 20 to 25 new stores each year. Right now, a franchise turn-key operation costs $190,000. The first Robin's franchise sold in 1977 for $85,000.

Cardwell says two executives are looking into possibilities in the Western States. But Cardwell says Robin's Donuts has more to achieve at home first.

PHOTO : Robin's Donuts will help new franchisees learn the ropes during a three-week initial training at this new training facility in Thunder Bay.
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Title Annotation:Thunder Bay Report; Robin's Donuts
Author:Rapino, Robin
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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