Christopher Adams

The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Auckland ice cream and froyo market near 'saturation point', says Mr Whippy

Mr Whippy master franchise owner Chris Dorn says the Auckland frozen dessert market is close to saturation point. Photo / Greg Bowker
Mr Whippy master franchise owner Chris Dorn says the Auckland frozen dessert market is close to saturation point. Photo / Greg Bowker

The owner of the Mr Whippy master franchise says Auckland's frozen dessert market is close to reaching "saturation point" and the company is focusing on other regions as it expands.

The business, best-known for its soft-serve icecream vans that have operated on New Zealand streets for the last 50 years, has begun establishing a network of retail outlets, opening stores in Henderson and Queenstown last year.

It has also launched new products such as frozen yoghurt and hot desserts.

Chris Dorn, who took over the Mr Whippy master franchise in 2012, said key areas for the trade in Auckland - places like the CBD, Mission Bay, Newmarket and coastal areas of the North Shore - were almost saturated with icecream and frozen yoghurt stores following a huge increase in the number of outlets in recent years.

"There's bound to be a correction in the [Auckland] market in the next 18 to 24 months for sure," said Dorn. "I just don't think the amount of stores that we've got per capita in Auckland is sustainable."

Mr Whippy - which has put 10 more vans on the road in the last 12 months, bringing the national fleet to just over 60 - is looking to establish additional retail stores in areas such as Mt Maunganui, Taupo, Hamilton, Lower Hutt and Christchurch.

Norman Markgraaff, founder of frozen yoghurt chain KiwiYo, agreed the Auckland market was becoming crowded but said there was still room for his business to grow.

KiwiYo, which operates six Auckland stores, is aiming to open at least another seven outlets in the city.

He thought some stores operated by competing frozen yoghurt brands would not survive winter this year.

Dorn said Mr Whippy would celebrate its 50th anniversary this Saturday by giving away 20,000 icecreams around New Zealand in return for a gold coin donation. Proceeds would go to the Child Cancer Foundation.

Dorn has abandoned plans to update the Mr Whippy vans' Greensleeves tune as part of the anniversary celebrations after a "huge public backlash".

- NZ Herald

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