Marcella Scarlett, Business Reporter
Wisynco Foods will be closing its single retail shop for Haagen-Dazs ice cream but says it should not be seen as a sign that the franchise is underperforming.
Instead, the company said it is making room for a new Wendy's outlet.
"We are not closing due to underperformance; it is a strategic move by the company to focus on the brands that we are growing at a faster rate, and that is why we are focusing on the Wendy's brand," said Sean Scott, chief executive officer of Wisynco Foods Limited.
"We are not closing because sales are bad or anything like that," he told Wednesday Business.
Häagen-Dazs is also distributed through supermarkets and other retail channels.
Wisynco is the franchise holder for Haagen-Dazs, Domino's pizza as well as Wendy's in Jamaica, which it has operated since 2008.
Wisynco Group Managing Director, William Mahfood, says his company has been exploring the shift away from retail ice cream for "sometime now".
"We are in the distribution of ice-cream; we do mostly wholesale distribution," said Mahfood. His company also distributes ice-cream and novelty items for Nestle, as well as the Meyer's, Ben & Jerry's, Cremo and Kremi brands, among others.
"We never had any intention to develop the brand beyond the one retail store," he said of the Häagen-Dazs franchise.
While not willing to disclose sales volume, Mahfood said retail accounted for less than five per cent of total ice-cream sales.
He emphasised that supplies of Häagen-Dazs to wholesale clients would not be affected.
The ice-cream shop will be closed by the end of November. Three months later, a Wendy's store will be up and running.
"What happened is that we are growing our Domino's and Wendy's franchises because there is a lot more opportunity to focus on those two brands. As we close the store, we are going to reopen it with Wendy's in three months," Mahfood said.
Currently, Wendy's can be found at four locations: Liguanea and Constant Spring Road in Kingston; and Fairview Shopping Centre and Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. The Barbican store will grow the chain to five shops.
A Wendy's store once operated in New Kingston, but Scott said it was closed down by Wisynco after it acquired the franchise in 2008. The previous franchise holder was Paul Issa, he said.
Domino's, which is the largest pizza chain in Jamaica, has just added two stores in Kingston, including a 13th store at Barbican Road, which opened Monday. Wisynco claims a 65 per cent share of the pizza market.
Mahfood said it won't require much effort to transform the Häagen-Dazs store into a Wendy's outlet.
"It won't be much work. It is really just to take out the equipment and put in new ones to reopen as Wendy's and do the necessary branding," he said.
The transformation is happening at the same time that frozen yoghurt franchise Tutti Frutti Jamaica is reporting raving business at the same shopping plaza.
But Mahfood said there was no corelation.
"Since Tutti Frutti has opened, our business has not declined. It has stayed relatively the same," he said.
The yoghurt shop, owned by LP Azar Limited, opened for business in May.
"We are the ones who had told the Sovereign people to let Tutti Frutti open there because our plan to come out of the ice cream shop would happen soon; that has been our plan from long ago," Mahfood said.
The 'Sovereign people' is a reference to the Loshusan family which owns and operates Barbican Centre. Sovereign Centre is also owned by members of the Loshusan family.
Scott said two more Wendy's stores will be opened within a year in Kingston and Portmore; and at least one more Domino's in the same time period, also either in Kingston or Portmore.