What is in this article?:
- TCBY, Mrs. Fields test new menu items, prototypes
- Mrs. Fields to relaunch next year
TCBY will test a fresh, non-frozen, yogurt bar and Mrs. Fields will relaunch its brand next year, Famous Brands CEO says.
Tim Casey, CEO of Famous Brands.
The TCBY frozen yogurt chain is planning a flagship store that will test a new fresh yogurt bar, as well as a new juice line.
TCBY parent company Famous Brands International is also designing a new flagship store for sister brand Mrs. Fields Cookies that will test a new chocolate beverage bar with hot and cold drinks, and more-relaxed café seating with soft couches and chairs.
Both new prototype units are scheduled to open in March in Broomfield, Colo., at the base of Famous Brands’ headquarters.
The flagship locations will also serve as research-and-development centers for the brands, and as training facilities for new franchisees.
Famous Brands chief executive Tim Casey said the primary goal is to use the new stores to test ongoing innovations before rolling out new ideas to franchisees.
“We really feel it’s our responsibility to always be working on and developing things for our franchise system,” Casey said.
Famous Brands was recapitalized last December in a deal that brought in private-equity firm Z Capital Partners as a majority owner, along with existing stakeholder The Carlyle Group.
Over the past few years, 31-year-old TCBY has been working to re-invent its brand in light of increasing competition from more contemporary frozen yogurt players, like Pinkberry, Red Mango and Yogurtland.
Last year, TCBY debuted a more healthful Super Fro-Yo line, as well as a new self-service prototype design, which is now used by about 125 locations among the 650-unit chain.
Earlier this year, TCBY was one of the first frozen yogurt players to add frozen Greek yogurt, which has been very successful, Casey said. The chain is working on new Greek yogurt flavors to debut next year.
“The frozen Greek yogurt has exceeded even our expectations, and we had high expectations,” he said. “We have invested heavily into the food science of our fro-yo, giving our R&D team the chance to distance itself from the category, and it’s paying dividends for our brand and our partners.”
The TCBY brand is also now in Walmart Superstores. The company has rolled out a line of branded licensed frozen yogurt products in pints, quarts and novelty bars, as well as a squeezable soft-serve yogurt pouch.
At the new flagship store, TCBY will test a fresh yogurt bar featuring both Greek and traditional yogurt, using a proprietary product featuring live and active cultures. Both plain and flavored options will be tested.
Guests will be able to add their own toppings, as they do at self-serve frozen yogurt locations, and pay by weight. The chain will also test the option of earlier hours, as many consumers prefer yogurt for.
“I believe there is always room to open for breakfast with that type of offering, but that’s the sort of thing we’re going to evaluate before bringing it to franchisees,” Casey said.
In addition, the company has developed a proprietary line of juices with a low glycemic index and fiber, though Casey declined to reveal details. Smoothies will also be an option, using the fresh yogurts.
“We know that consumers are looking for healthy juice offerings,” he said, noting that fresh yogurt and juices will be an attractive combination given growing interest in both as meal replacements.
Pinkberry began testing a non-frozen Greek yogurt offering earlier this year, opening some stores earlier for breakfast and adding coffee. The Greek yogurt is in about 20 of the chain’s 220 locations and will be rolled out nationally in March 2013.
Juice has also become more popular. Starbucks is growing the Evolution Fresh juice concept, and smoothie chains like Jamba Juice and Juice It Up! have expanded their fresh juice lines.