Baskin-Robbins to Launch Most Aggressive Expansion in 51-Year History, Opening 25 Franchised Locations in Canada [Interview]

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Baskin-Robbins, the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, has signed its largest franchise development agreement in 51 years in Canada.

The deal, with real estate and franchise operator McMaster Group Holdings, includes the expansion of the brand to 25 new shops in the Vancouver and Calgary markets.

Natalie Joseph, Senior Manager, International Field Marketing for Baskin-Robbins Canada, said the brand recently opened its 108th location in Canada in Guildford Town in Surrey, BC, which is one of the 25 new locations to be opened. That followed the opening of a new store in Metropolis Metrotown in Burnaby, BC.

Baskin-Robbins is part of Inspire Brands, a multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio includes Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic Drive-In, Jimmy John’s, Rusty Taco, Mister Donut, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Baskin-Robbins in Surrey, BC (Image: Baskin-Robbins)

The new locations will be designed according to Baskin-Robbins’ new ‘Moments’ design, which includes eye-catching dipping cabinets, flexible and comfortable seating, and modernized digital menu boards, said the company.

“I don’t want to commit to any timeline by any means but we are working with a franchisee who is eager to fulfill that commitment I would say within the next couple of years you’re going to see a significant amount of that growth,” explained Joseph. 

“We have an amazing opportunity for growth in Canada not just with Baskin-Robbins but with the Inspire Brands’ portfolio. There are definitely other brands like Arby’s and they have a great opportunity for growth throughout Canada as well. 

“We’re pretty excited that it’s an opportunity that Inspire Brands internationally are looking at the Canadian market as the market to focus on for development.”

Image: Baskin-Robbins Canada

The first Baskin-Robbins location in Canada opened in 1971 at Bathurst and Eglinton in Toronto and is still there today.

“With a sweet legacy in Canada, Baskin-Robbins remains focused on growth across the country,” said Craig Walker, Senior Director of International Business, for Baskin-Robbins in Canada, in a statement. “We’re delighted to work alongside Adel Ashry of McMaster Group Holdings to bring our full menu of flavours, innovation and treats to new guests in these important markets.”

Since entering the franchise business in 1998, Adel Ashry has developed more than 1,500 units of some of the largest chains internationally in the retail, food, and consumer product industries, said Baskin-Robbins.

“I have been working in the franchise operating business in the Middle East for the past 23 years and in Canada for the past nine. In that time, I’ve become familiar with the type of brands that will resonate with Canadian consumers,” said Ashry in a statement. “I’m excited to join the Baskin-Robbins brand and lead its development in Vancouver and Calgary. My family recently relocated from Toronto and are very excited to call Vancouver our new home.

Baskin-Robbins in Surrey, BC (Image: Baskin-Robbins)

“We’re designing our new shops to offer families a destination that helps them bond over a sweet frozen treat in an enjoyable, refreshing and warm environment.”

Joseph said for both Baskin-Robbins and Arby’s the footprint is small in Canada.

“We have 108 stores (Baskin-Robbins) in a country this size. So the growth potential is there. Years prior, we did have a larger footprint and just over time that eroded. So we are definitely on a path moving forward to increase our shop size,” she said. 

“The growth is coming. It’s exciting news. There’s opportunities. It’s just about looking for developers that are wanting to invest in multi-units. We’re excited about it.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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