Specialty coffee company Gloria Jean’s Coffees, which has stores in the Pittsburgh area, plans to expand east to Central Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia region, the latest franchise to target the midstate for growth opportunities.
Brian Balconi, the U.S. president of Australia-based food and beverage company Retail Food Group, parent company of Gloria Jean’s, said he hopes to add 15 new locations in the U.S. over the next year, including in the midstate. The company currently has 54 U.S. stores and about 900 worldwide.
“Pennsylvania has been good to us,” he said. The company has four stores open in western Pennsylvania and two more in the works.
Gloria Jean’s also has locations in New Jersey and an East Coast operations manager in the Philadelphia area, so the Harrisburg area would be a logical geographic fit, he said.
The company, which started in a small town outside Chicago in 1979, hired a director of franchise development last year to help accelerate its growth.
Balconi said he sees a lot of potential in the Midwest because of the brand’s roots, along with opportunities along the East Coast.
The brand, which is known for its wide variety of coffee flavors, is competing with other large chains that are still growing, including Starbucks, and smaller coffee shops and local roasters who are trying to expand in their communities.
The owners of Harrisburg coffee hangout Capital Joe are looking to go from one location to 10 by the end of next year.
Gloria Jean’s does not have any committed Central Pennsylvania franchisees or locations, though generally the stores are located in traditional shopping malls. In Pittsburgh, a Gloria Jean’s will open in a downtown location.
“With opening other stores in Pennsylvania, we hope that will help spread the word,” Balconi said.
Balconi was on his way to New York City for the International Franchise Expo, the largest franchise expo in the country, which runs through Saturday, looking to get the word out about the company.
The start-up investment needed to open a Gloria Jean’s franchise ranges from about $185,000 to $489,000. That wide range depends on the type of store and location. The low end might be for a mall kiosk space, while the higher cost might be for a store with a drive-thru in a retail strip center.
There is a 6 percent royalty fee and a 2 percent advertising payment.
Retail Food Group also is planning to bring other franchise brands to the U.S., including its Donut King, Brumby’s Bakery and Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar.