Ben & Jerry's ice cream (archives)
Two years after closing its last branch in Israel, American ice cream manufacturer Ben and Jerry's is returning to the Holy Land.
Yedioth Ahronoth's economic newspaper Calcalist has learned that the brand's marketer in Israel, American Quality Products Ltd., is working to rebuild the chain and has already opened a first store in the Cinema City complex in Ramat Hasharon.
This won't be the only store. The company plans to open about 16 branches and stands at an average investment of NIS 200,000-300,000 (about $52,000-78,000) for each branch.
Dun & Bradstreet economists estimate ice cream sales in Israel will slightly fall this year, reach some NIS 1 billion. Due to recession, Israelis expected to reduce consumption of prestigious ice cream brands, buy simpler products
The first store was built at an investment of only NIS 100,000 (26,000), as it replaced another ice cream parlor in Cinema City, requiring no structural changes apart from new equipment. These days the company is looking for locations on main streets.
Avi Zinger, the company's owner in Israel, confirmed this information. "We have wanted to reopen stores in Israel for two years now. In recent years ice cream parlors have began gathering momentum again, and we have also decided to resume our activity, but the move was postponed several times in light of the crisis.
"The global company expands first of all by opening stores and only then distributing the products to chains." The situation in Israel is the opposite: The company has marketed its products without operating stores.
'Atmosphere has changed'
Ben & Jerry's stores worldwide operate in three retail formats: Kiosks without any seats on an area of 12 square meters (126 square feet), ice cream parlors on an area of 30-40 square meters (322-430 square feet), and larger stores covering 60-100 square meters (645-1,076 square feet) which include, in addition to the ice cream menu, accessories of the brand like shirts and cups.
The three formats are being examined in Israel, although the most likely one to be adopted is stores measuring about 40 square meters (430 square feet) in size.
The chain was opened in Israel in 1988, and had 16 branches at its peak. In 2001, a decision was made to close them.
"The retail activity was profitable until the intifada and terror attacks period," Zinger recounts. "Our ice cream parlors, which were mostly based on American tourists, were hurt. Now the atmosphere has changed. This is a year of recession, but people still got out, many ice cream stores have opened, and business opportunities have been created for business real estate."
The ice cream is produced in the company's factory in Yavne and marketed to most food chains in Israel. The company operates in the institutional market as well, selling its products to restaurants and hotels across the country.