As some of its competition melted away this summer, one locally-based frozen yogurt chain is hopping towards a milestone.
Sweet Frog will open its 300th location in the coming months, capping a stretch of rapid growth since it launched in Richmond in 2009.
The company has 297 operating stores, and spokesman James Denison said a shop under construction in Alexandria is slated to become the 300th Sweet Frog branch.
There are Sweet Frogs in 26 states, with the majority on the East Coast. The company has 45 more locations in the works.
“On the East Coast I think the concept was new, so there was a great demand for the concept and as a company we were able to really tie into a lot of the local communities,” Denison said. “On top of that we’ve appealed really well to kids, with the bright colors and the frog mascots.”
Sweet Frog has 18 Richmond-area locations and was a front-runner in the region’s fro-yo craze over the past couple of years. It has opened two in the last year on Brook Road and at Stony Point Fashion Park.
But after a two-year boom, the local frozen yogurt market has shown some signs of softening. Crave Frozen Yogurt Café locations near VCU and Virginia Center Commons closed in recent months, along with a Mix It frozen yogurt shop at West Broad Village. Twister’z on Staples Mill called it quits in July in light of heavy competition. And Bobalicious, at VCU, closed in the spring.
Denison said Sweet Frog has not seen a drop in sales as other brands have faltered. He attributed that success to the location of its shops.
“Certainly we have to be careful locationally because there’s always the risk of cannibalization and oversaturation,” he said. “For us it’s been being really careful about where we place stores.”
A sampling of Sweet Frog locations averaged about $55,000 in monthly sales, according to a 12-month survey taken by the company, Denison said.
Of Sweet Frog’s 297 locations, 70 are corporate-owned, 113 are franchised and 114 are licensed stores.
Before the company became officially franchised, it licensed the Sweet Frog concept and name to independent store owners in exchange for a 4-percent cut of sales, Sweet Frog founder Derek Cha told BizSense in 2011.
Denison said the company no longer licenses its concept, and most of Sweet Frog’s expansion in recent years has come from franchising. The company is currently seeking franchisees and in the Northeast as well as Georgia, Indiana and Ohio, according to its website.
As growth in the Richmond frozen yogurt market has slowed down, Denison said Sweet Frog is beginning to take off in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“New York has recently been one of our good markets,” Denison said. “Pennsylvania has been another emerging market that we’ve seen success in.”
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