Bracing for the heat: Ice creameries set sights on heatwave

Looking out his window overlooking Melbourne’s bay, Stan Gordon is excited.

The chief executive of Franchised Food Company has no less than three brands that benefit from hot weather. And today is forecast to be a scorcher.

“I hope all our stores are getting ready for an excellent day,” he tells SmartCompany. Temperatures in Melbourne are scheduled to hit 42 degrees and stay above 40 degrees until Friday. And Adelaide is scheduled to hit a gobsmacking 45 degrees today and on Thursday.

That’s good news for the sellers of ice cream, frozen yogurt, cold drinks and air-conditioned entertainment.

For family-owned Adelaide cinema chain Wallis Cinemas, days with above 40 degree temperatures have seen 30% more movie tickets sold, Wallis’ marketing manager, Paul Besanko, tells SmartCompany.

“It’s not something we wish for personally. But we’re a bit like farmers. The first thing they talk about is the weather. And our business does well when it’s hot.”

The boost in ticket sales poses logistical challenges, with cinemas having to stock up on soft drinks, water and ice cream, and roster on more staff. But he says with plenty more people coming through the door, it’s well worth it.

Through its Cold Rock, Mr Whippy and Trampoline franchise networks, Franchised Food Company has exposure to both ice cream and frozen yogurt. 

“Someone has listened to my prayers,” Gordon says. “We have a great marketing department and great external agencies working with us, but when the Lord gives us sun, the stores make a lot of money. We’re really smiling on days like this.”

The company also owns a coffee drive-through business, Europa Coffee. It generally suffers on hot days, but Gordon says anything in an air-conditioned shopping centre does well, so stores in or near such complexes should also have a good day.

Plenty of businesses suffer when the weather is hot. “If we were selling hamburgers or pizzas, I expect it’d be very different today,” Gordon says. “It’s really the two extremes – some do really well and some don’t when the weather is like this.”

Not that hamburger joints are taking it lying down. Melbourne-based healthy burger chain Grill’d today announced it would offer free burgers and beers to customers who sign up to its ‘Meatwave’ promotion. The marketing campaign will see a temperature target announced online every Monday, and when and if regional temperatures hit that target, ‘Meatwave’ cardholders can come to their local restaurant to pick up their freebies.

Victoria has experienced a mild summer, which has hammered the fortunes of businesses that sell cold drinks. But Gordon says he expects things to look up this week.

“People don’t feel like they’re back at work yet, and it stays warm and comfortable till quite late at night. People are still going out and having their treat. And that’s good news for us.”


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