Staff rush to dish out the ice cream at the newly launched  Cold Stone Creamery branch in Sarbet.

A local firm has signed a franchise agreement with a Canada-based food company to bring Cold Stone Creamery, an American ice cream parlour chain, to the capital.

Belayab Foods Production Plc has partnered with Kahala Brands to open the outlet at Boran Complex, located in Sarbet. The franchise agreement is worth 300,000 dollars and the outlet opened its doors on March 1, 2020.

So far, Belayab has launched five Pizza Hut franchises with Yum! Restaurants International Inc. in Sarbet, CMC, Kazanchis, Gurd Shola and Bole Medanialem. It is also planning to launch another Pizza Hut franchise within 10 days and another Cold Stone Creamery at Bawadi Mall in Djibouti within three months, spending half a million dollars for both.

The agreement between the two parties was signed two years ago, but importing the machinery from different countries and training staff took time, according to Aschalew Belay, a businessman and owner of Belayab who is based in Beijing, China. He has founded several other establishments including Golden Tulip Hotel, Belayab Motors, Belayab Cables, KIA Motors and Hua Jia International Trade Company.

Staff rush to dish out the ice cream at the newly launched  Cold Stone Creamery branch in Sarbet.

“We import machines from different countries like Italy and have trained our staff in South Africa and India and this caused a little delay,” said Aschalew, who believes opening new markets increases the confidence of foreign investors.

The Cold Stone Creamery, which plans to expand its branches to a minimum of ten different neighbourhoods in Addis Abeba and tourist destinations throughout Ethiopia, offers 17 different ice cream flavours and has hired 200 employees under Belayab Foods Production.

Apart from ice cream, Cold Stone Creamery also serves different types of shakes and cakes, according to Alex Neville, director of international operations for Kahala Brands, owner of Cold Stone Creamery. The Cold Stone Creamery, which is popular in America, is active in more than 30 countries, including Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, India and China.

Belayab Foods will source most of the ingredients for its products from the United States to maintain the authentic taste of each flavour.

Building the trust of the international community in the country and bringing a new taste to the local market are among the benefits of bringing the company to Ethiopia, according to Aschalew, who says that he started this business to create jobs, not to make money.

“The company aims to bring the authentic American taste to Ethiopia,” said Aschalew. "Despite the shortage of forex, we plan to open additional outlets at Bole Airport soon."

Cold Stone Creamery was established in 1988 by a husband and wife team, Donald and Susan Sutherland, in the college town of Temple, Arizona. Kahala Brands is owned by MTY Food Group Inc., with a portfolio of nearly 30 fast-casual and quick-service restaurant brands with approximately 3,300 locations in about 30 countries. The brands under its portfolio include Cold Stone Creamery, Blimpie, Pinkberry and TacoTime, among others.

Atlaw Alemu (PhD), a lecturer at Addis Abeba University’s Faculty of Business & Economics, believes that since the country is not earning much from its exports, the company will face a shortage of forex to import the ingredients.

“I am concerned whether an ice cream company is a priority, because the country is in dire need of medicine and fuel,” said Atlaw, who believes that ice cream demand is minuscule compared to the demand for basic necessities.

“However, in the future, if the company can produce the ingredients for its product in the country," he said, "it will create more job opportunities for local companies, which then could join the export market."

PUBLISHED ON Feb 29,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1035]

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