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where it is so expensive to do business. I would look at the likes of Birmingham and Manchester, and possibly some smaller cities. We call it a ‘reverse penetration’ strategy. We build the brand in the war chest before we take on London.” The UK is important to the company

Have pretzel, will travel: American model and actress Carmen Electra eating on the move in New York

– we have done enough homework on that – and we can build the supply chain, so we just have to get the right investor to work with.” Shattuck says the Cinnabon brand –

famous for its cinnamon rolls, and one of Focus Brands’ biggest – will also return to Britain after the company got its fingers badly burnt with an unsuccessful franchisee venture. Until 2011, Cinnabon had only one outlet, but a further three have opened

because it provides a base for it to move into the rest of Europe. “Our overall strategy for international expansion is based on emerging markets, with the exception of the UK, Canada and Japan,” says Shattuck. “The UK provides us with a launching pad when we are ready to move on Europe.” Focus Brands already has some

outlets in Europe, but Shattuck is wary of the Continent for two reasons – the ongoing financial crisis and what he calls “the inflexible labour markets”. “The UK has a labour market that

behaves in a similar way to the US and we understand that market, which fits better with our brand.” Meanwhile, Europe’s economic woes

“If we had £10m we could have grown quicker, but it took 18 months to get our supply chain working” Max Burton, Auntie Anne’s

in the past 18 months. “We will get Cinnabon going here again,” says Shattuck confidently. “Cinnabon had to recover from what I kindly call ‘a misadventure’. “We had a disagreement with the

franchise owner on how to penetrate the market. He believed that the best approach was to develop the City of London first. But that is very expensive and very risky, and he didn’t get it right. Millions were lost on that strategy.” Although Focus Brands does have a Cinnabon concession in London’s Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus, as a rule Shattuck avoids central London with all brands until they become firmly established. “My personal belief about brand- building in the UK is that you start in the outlying regions, not in London,

At a glance

✹ There are 28 Auntie Anne’s in the UK, in small malls and inline kiosks ✹ Plans are set to grow the brand to 100 in the UK within the next five years ✹ The parent company is US-based Focus Brands ✹ Focus Brands has Schlotzsky’s, Carvel, Cinnabon and Moe’s Southwest Grill

have slowed the chain’s expansion. “We were ready to make that move, but we are holding back a bit now,” says Shattuck. “We are already in Greece and the Netherlands; the Netherlands is doing OK, but Greece... well, we have three locations there and we haven’t developed any since the crash hit. Risk and a sketchy performance have changed our approach.” While the company eyes opportunities

overseas, it is still expanding in the US. “We are not yet fully covered there,” says Shattuck. “We have a long way to go but, strategically, we are trying to project our brand overseas.” This, he explains, “diversifies our base

operations away from a single market, and brand recognition grows exponentially as you move into the global markets”. “Frankly,” he adds, “we are owned

by private equity [Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group] and the expectation is to have an international play in the portfolio.” Max Burton is proud the UK is playing

such a pivotal role in the company’s bid for international recognition. He says: “We are a relatively sophisticated country so that means we are an important market for Focus Brands, especially when it comes to testing a product.” From Harry Potter stars to Oprah,

surely it can only be a matter of time before Auntie Anne’s and the other Focus Brands’ facias will be sporting their own celebrity followers.

Summer 2013 27


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