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Haagen-Dazs Upgrades Ice Cream Shops to Keep Customers Longer

Published on Jan 25 2015 2:18 PM in Restaurant

Haagen-Dazs Upgrades Ice Cream Shops to Keep Customers Longer

For Haagen-Dazs Shoppe Co., serving ice cream isn’t enough. It wants to give customers an experience.

The Haagen-Dazs shop in downtown Bronxville, New York, which has been open for about 30 years, was recently remodelled. It has digital menu boards, leather-booth seating and stools where customers can sit in front of a dessert bar and watch as an employee makes their sundae or milk shake.

Haagen-Dazs, which operates 210 ice cream parlors in the US, is upgrading its stores to keep customers in them for longer, said Dawn Uremovich, a president at the company. It took six weeks to renovate the Bronxville shop, which reopened just before Christmas. Since then, sales are up 37 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier, with store visits jumping 38 per cent, she said.

“If you can get that mom in one more time per week with her kids and that happens again and again it starts to make sense financially,” Uremovich said in an interview in Bronxville. “We wanted the experience to be on par with the product.”

Haagen Dazs is following in the footsteps of Starbucks Corp., which last month debuted the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, a 15,000-square-foot facility in Seattle designed to showcase the coffee chain’s premium line of coffee.

For Uremovich, the Haagen Dazs revamp, which began in Bronxville and will be extended across the US over the next several years, was designed with the same thought in mind: turning the ice cream shops into a marketing tool.

Positive Experience

An internal study found that customers who felt positively about their experience at a Haagen-Dazs shop also bought more ice cream at the grocery store, Uremovich said.

“There’s a million different things in the ice cream aisle - this is a way to help it stand out,” she said.The Haagen-Dazs brand is owned by General Mills Inc., but Nestle SA licenses it in the US and Canada. The Haagen Dazs Shoppe Co. is a unit of Nestle USA and contributed $22 million in profit to its parent in 2014, Uremovich said.

The original Haagen Dazs shop, which is still in business, opened on Montague Street in downtown Brooklyn in 1976. Haagen Dazs peaked at 250 US shops in 2008, but Uremovich has trimmed the store count in recent years by closing underperforming locations. Last year, Haagen Dazs shut 20 stores and opened 11.

The plan for 2015 is to open 12 stores, all of them modeled after the Bronxville location, while another 10 will be closed. An additional 10 existing locations will be remodelled this year. Uremovich is waiting to see how the first batch of stores perform before committing to an aggressive expansion.

She said she hopes to use the Bronxville location to pitch real estate brokers on the new store concept and to show other franchise owners that the investment will boost sales by matching the store experience to premium product.

“We need to eliminate the gap and get parity with the shop experience,” she said.

Bloomberg News edited by Hospitality Ireland

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