BRIEF: Sweet Jesus Ice Cream Sold to Yogen Früz Parent, Baskin-Robbins Opens 100th Location

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By Helen Siwak, Retail Insider Brief Editor

Sweet Jesus Ice Cream Sold to Frozen Dessert Conglomerate: The Toronto-based Sweet Jesus ice cream chain has been sold to International Franchising Inc., the parent company of Yogen Früz, Pinkberry, and Yogurty’s. The goal is to continue expanding the Sweet Jesus chain under new ownership with a franchise model.  

Sweet Jesus was founded in Toronto in 2015 by restaurant group Monarch & Misfits, and the ice cream chain is now one of the fastest-growing ice cream concepts with 20 locations in Canada, the US and in the Middle East where it operates under the name ‘Sweet Salvation.’ The company has also amassed a massive social media following, and some Christian groups have come out to say that they interpret Sweet Jesus’ marketing as ‘blasphemous.’ 

International Franchising Inc. has over 1,400 units in over 47 countries under the Yogen Früz, Pinkberry, Swenson’s Ice Cream, Yeh! Yogurt, and Yogurty’s. 

Aaron Serruya, President of International Franchising Inc., said, “Sweet Jesus is a powerful brand with a rich social media following that resonates especially with millennials. With this transaction, International Franchising Inc. is adding a brand that has a distinctive position within a compelling segment and strong U.S. and international prospects for growth. We look forward to taking an already very strong brand and accelerating its pace of growth and opening new units in Canada, the U.S., and around the world. As Sweet Jesus becomes part of the International Franchising Inc. family, we believe we can deliver growth and opportunities for all of our stakeholders, including our valued employees and franchisees.”

Jeff Young, former Chief Development Officer of Sweet Jesus and newly appointed President of Sweet Jesus with International Franchising Inc., said, “I am proud of the results the Sweet Jesus team has achieved since its inception, by delighting guests with hand crafted, chef inspired pimped out soft serve treats. The Serruya Family are industry leaders in the frozen dessert category and have recognized the opportunity for exceptional unit growth in the future, particularly in the U.S. and around the world. The outlook of the Sweet Jesus brand has never looked brighter and this transaction will deliver immediate and certain value to all SJ shareholders.”

Mr. Young is the point of contact for franchise information or real estate opportunities: or 647.888.8420.

Baskin-Robbins Opens 100th Canadian Location: More ice cream news as we plunge head-on into another chilly Canadian winter — Baskin Robbins opened its 100th location last month at Hamilton’s CF Lime Ridge Mall

The 459-square-foot Baskin-Robbins is located above the mall’s food court, and is owned and operated by Lori and Frank Malavolta, who also own and operate a Kernels Extraordinary Popcorn shop in the same mall which has been operating for 20 years.

The shop features Baskin-Robbins’ made-in-store customizable cakes, milkshakes, frozen treats, fresh baked waffle cones, warm cookie ice cream sandwiches, not to mention the traditional 31 flavours.

Baskin-Robbins is expanding aggressively in Canada with almost 20 new store development agreements recently announced. The company first opened in Canada in 1971. 

Photo: Oxford PropertiesPhoto: Oxford Properties

Photo: Oxford Properties

Mississauga’s Square One Kicks-Off All-Digital Holiday Program: One of Canada’s biggest and busiest shopping centres, Square One in Mississauga, kicks off the holiday season with some initiatives that are intended to make navigation easy. These include the Search·Find·Shop online service, enhanced Interactive Parking Map, Apple Maps and Google Business View navigation.

Square One’s new Search·Find·Shop online service enables shoppers to search and view products available at participating stores at Square One. This is the first time in Canada that shoppers can search specific products and brands across multiple retailers on a shopping centre website. It’s a true omni-channel experience in a shopping centre environment that enables customers to search, call stores for product information and shop in-store or on-line. This service is available exclusively to Oxford Properties, launching at Square One, Yorkdale and Scarborough Town Centre, with a select assortment of retailers that will expand over time. Website:


Easy Parking Interactive Parking Map: Launched in 2016, the interactive parking map is the first and only of its kind in Canada, providing an overview of the best places to park and advises of any on-site detours. Guests may access the map from their phone, choose a preferred lot, and the most direct path to their destination is presented. Plan the best route by visiting

Apple Maps and Google Business View: You can now ask Siri for gift ideas at Square One — accurate wayfinding through Apple Maps is made possible by following the user’s location inside the shopping centre, where standard GPS systems are not able to trace. With a categorized directory of Square One’s more than 320 stores and Yelp integration, users can “browse” through the shopping centre with ease. As well, the Google Business View feature guides one through the shopping centre with a panoramic virtual tour.

SQ1Podcast: Holiday Edition and SQ1 on Spotify: Introduced earlier in 2018, the SQ1Podcast to-date featured interviews with world-renowned personalities including celebrity chef Bobby Flay, global influencer Stephanie Shepherd, model and designer Georgia May Jagger, and even Retail Insider’s Craig Patterson was recently a guest on the program. Watch for the next special Holiday edition of SQ1Podcast, live on December 10. Square One also has a dedicated account on Spotify, and users can tune in to enjoy the Holiday playlist while shopping. 

Craig+Headshot (1).pngCraig+Headshot (1).png

Retail Insider’s Editor-in-Chief Gives Talks About Malls: Craig Patterson, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider, gave two shopping centre-based lectures in November. 

On November 1, Patterson spoke at a lunch for the Northern Alberta Shopping Centre Association in Edmonton, discussing industry trends for enclosed centres as well as power centres. The lecture revolved around how traditional malls are adding entertainment and other non-retail uses to attract shoppers, and in some instances entire mall properties are being redeveloped to create ‘complete communities’. Included was an Alberta focus discussing such properties as entertainment-heavy West Edmonton Mall, ever-upscaling CF Chinook Centre in Calgary, as well as plans to redevelop Edmonton’s Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre into a mixed-use community.

On November 20, Patterson spoke at Retail Council of Canada’s Brick-and-Mortar Forum at Google’s headquarters in Toronto, discussing the upcoming Retail Council of Canada 2018 Canadian Shopping Centre Study, due to be released this month. As a spoiler, Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre again proved itself to be Canada’s most productive mall in terms of annual sales per square feet, approaching $2,000/square-foot and overall sales nearing $2-billion annually.

Craig Patterson is available to speak to groups and can be reached at:

The Holiday Fashion Loop Launches at South Edmonton Common: To alleviate the chill of holiday shopping in the freezing north, as well as to connect the vast outdoor power centre, Edmontonians can now access a free service that will transport shoppers around Canada’s largest open-air retail centre – South Edmonton Common. The massive retail centre is spread over 320-acres and contains more than 2.3M-square-feet of dining, shopping, and entertainment space.

South Edmonton Common 2.jpgSouth Edmonton Common 2.jpg

The Holiday Fashion Loop Shuttle hit the snow-packed pavement on Black Friday and moves through seven designated pick-up and drop-off zones in key retail areas of the centre, saving shoppers the time and hassle of driving or walking. A number of shuttles will be wheelchair accessible and stroller-friendly. 

Shuttle service was successfully offered for the grand opening of Nordstrom Rack earlier in the fall. The Holiday Fashion Loop will at first be launched as a pilot project, with the potential for a longer-term, mass transportation solution for the centre, based on popularity and visitor feedback.

The shuttles for the Holiday Fashion Loop are being operated by Pacific Western Group of Companies and will operate until January 2, 2019 – just in time for returns!

Hunter x Disney Mary Poppins Returns – Unique Collaboration for Everyone

The Disney x Hunter products for women and kids have launched online and in-store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre! 

Hunter is partnering with Disney on a limited-edition lifestyle collection of footwear and accessories in celebration of “Mary Poppins Returns,” and is bringing a lot of joy and happiness to adults and children alike.  

Based on The Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers and scheduled to be released this Christmas, the eagerly anticipated film is directed by Rob Marshall and stars Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, and co-stars Lin-Manuel Miranda, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep, with special appearances by Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke.  

The collection will include the iconic Original boot and Original Refined boot in both tall and short, alongside backpacks, umbrellas and the exclusive Mary Bag – a unique new design created especially for the launch and based on the carpet bag from the first film.

Hunter, the ironically named vegan boot company, was founded in 1856 by American entrepreneur Henry Lee Norris and holds two Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM The Queen and HRH. Hunter’s first store in North America opened at Yorkdale in November of 2017. As well, if you’ve been in southern Ontario recently, you may have seen a giant Hunter boot hot air balloon flying overhead as part of a promotion.

Canadian Tire Creates Fictional Town of Mount Maple for the Holidays

Canadians have been shopping at Canadian Tire for décor, entertaining essentials, and the must-have gifts for the family for nearly 100 years. To celebrate this relationship, for the 2018 holiday season Canadian Tire has created a fictional town called Mount Maple to spread further the company’s message of being prepared.

The recently launched television and digital ads showcase three stories of the people and the magic of Mount Maple: A giant who helps his neighbour hang lights, a painting whose subjects come to life to play with presents on Christmas Eve, and baking and cooking that – with a touch of magic – brings people together.

Watch and be prepared to have your heart-warmed!

Helen Siwak is the publisher of Magazine, content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist in the luxury lifestyle niche. She is a regular content contributor to Retail-Insider and has a vast freelance portfolio including Boulevard English & Chinese editions, Indulge, and Montecristo Magazine. When not attending high-profile events in Vancouver’s ‘Luxury Zone’ or on assignment abroad, she is honing her plant-based cooking skills and caring for her rescues.

Article Author

Helen Siwak
Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Communications, publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, and specializes in the Luxury Lifestyle niche. She is the West Coast Correspondent for Retail-Insider and has a vast freelance portfolio including Montecristo Magazine, Boulevard English & Chinese editions, and Indulge.

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