The first location has opened at The Pearl in Qatar. The second unit opens in April in Dallas-Fort Worth airport at Terminal E Gate 13 (if you’re heading through DFW, go have a look and send me a selfie of you there!)
Camille’s typically looks for master development agreements with large corporations who want to develop a territory. They have recently signed a contract for 15 locations with a company in Saudi Arabia.
The concept is frozen ice cream, yogurt and gelato on display. The consumer visits and chooses a bar, ‘Maestro’ behind the counter dips it in chocolate and rolls it in a topping. This completes the transaction in 15 seconds.
Tom’s strategy at Camille’s is to develop locations in hyper-traffic locations. Traditional locations rely on automobile-based traffic. Tom gave the example of Atlanta airport where there are 50 million passenger movements each year – in Terminal E alone!
With large traffic comes high rent. Tom mentioned high rent would be where rent alone makes up 16% of gross revenues. The plus side is selling multiple 000s of product per week at US$5.89 per product gives rise to $1m+ in sales very quickly. In fact, it’s 3,300 bars at $5.89 = $1.01m in sales per year.
Tom started with a brand called Colombo’s, a frozen yogurt concept, before they sold to General Mills. In his 6 years at Colombo’s he helped take the brand in a different direction. Leadership wanted to branch out from the college/university market and Tom helped them develop stores in airports and hyper traffic locations.
From Colombo’s Tom worked at TCBY, a large established player in the frozen dessert space. Again he focused the development on hyper-traffic locations.
With international expansion comes challenges with supply chain. I asked the question about how the raw materials make it to the store. Many of the ingredients are imported, and as long as there is a supply of fresh milk or a pre-made dairy mix, the stores are fine to produce on-site using imported fruit purees, chocolate, and flavorings.
Tom is excited for the diversity coming to the food service market. New creative concepts, both food and non-food, are always on display at shows like the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago in May (I’ll be there too – come say hi!).
Tom’s worst moment was when he arrived at a show to exhibit Camille’s products. They shipped in 2000 bars on dry ice, and when they arrived 90% were defrosted and unusable. They couldn’t even get the freezer on to the loading dock! Tough day.
Tom’s advice for new concepts is to go slow and get the product right. Lots of focus groups, lots of iterations. Time spent here will pay big dividends – Tom said “Time spent here is priceless.”.