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Investors exploring Auntie Anne’s as a potential franchise partner may find some new twists in the pretzel purveyor’s franchise model.
Among other initiatives, Auntie Anne’s is experimenting with a co-branding concept in five test markets and it recently launched its first food truck that it believes will appeal to a certain type of franchisee who’s uninterested in a bricks-and-mortar unit.
“There are a number of different avenues where someone can get in the system and grow with us,” says Andy Kmiec, 40, associate vice president of real estate for Auntie Anne’s.
While parent company Focus Brands reportedly is planning to take the franchise group public due to strong investor interest in its restaurants, the leadership at Auntie Anne’s continues to focus on expanding the brand in new ways.
New Growth Strategy
Owned by Roark Capital Partners, Focus Brands also includes Carvel, Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s. Until recently, Auntie Anne’s has grown by identifying major shopping malls as locations for new franchise units. That strategy has led to a near saturation of those venues, Kmiec said. So Auntie Anne’s is also identifying available leasing space at Wal-Mart stores, military bases, colleges and universities as new spaces to bring its homespun blue and white gingham look.
The company is also testing a co-branding concept that would allow franchisees to operate an Auntie Anne’s along with sister brand Cinnabon.
“This concept positions both quick-service restaurant leaders under one roof equipped with an extended menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert options, fresh color schemes and design elements, and added space for seating,” Kmiec says.
In addition to fresh colors and new interior designs, the so-called Auntie Anne’s Cinnabon Cafe has such menu items as breakfast sandwiches, panini on cheese or pretzel rolls, gourmet pretzel dogs, specialty beverages, as well as the goodies for which both brands have already become known: pretzels and sweet treats. The units also have expanded seating, which is new for both brands, known more for their portable, walk-and-eat products. The pairing concept will likely spread first to units in airports, Kmiec said.