Italian gelato chain RivaReno heads Down Under

Italian gelato chain RivaReno has chosen Sydney as its first location outside of Italy, opening a store in Sydney’s Darlinghurst, but an expert says it will have to work hard for consumer dollars.


RivaReno was founded in 2004 by four friends – an ex-automotive manager and his journalist wife, a lawyer, and an ice cream maker from Bologna, which is where the company was born.


The idea was simple: to bring to the market the very best Italian ice cream.


The original recipes, taste and consistency are attributed to the skills of Leonardo Ragazzi – a recognised craftsman of Bolognese ice cream.


A year after it was founded, the first RivaReno store opened in Milan. This was followed by other stores, opened by franchisees, and there are now more than 10 stores across the country.


Now the chain has widened its focus beyond Italy, choosing Australia as its first foreign market. On January 29, RivaReno will open its first Australian franchise in Darlinghurst.


Kieran Tosolini, the company’s Sydney partner, decided to bring the RivaReno concept to Australia after discovering it in Italy. But he’s unsure how many Australian stores will open.


“We’re currently working on opening the first store in Darlinghurst and essentially we want to see how this store goes,” he says.


“I think it is a very, very top quality product. There’s nothing like this here. It’s real, genuine Italian gelato made fresh every day, so I think it will do well.


“If that’s the case, we’re going to look at expansion. But we’re not going to rush into anything before we have a proven model here.”


While RivaReno can highlight the fact it is Italian, it is up against a fair bit of competition, including Gelatissimo and Trampoline Gelato.


There’s also a growing list of ice cream and frozen yoghurt chains including Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry’s, Cold Rock Ice Creamery and Tasti D-Lite.


According to Jason Gehrke, director of the Franchise Advisory Centre, RivaReno will definitely have to compete for consumer dollars.


“The thing that will help one business win out against the other are factors including availability, price and customer experience,” he says.


“By customer experience I mean not just seeing the frozen product in the glass fridges but does the offering go so far as [to explain how] the gelato is being made?


“That element of retail is going to become more important to separate people from their dollars.”


Gelato and ice cream chains have become increasingly creative in the way they appeal to consumers. Trampoline Gelato has launched a mobile concept dubbed Trampoline on the Moove, while Ben & Jerry’s – which has smaller stores known as “scoop shops” – has been known to offer free ice cream.


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