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Cold Stone to cool down sizzling Philippines

US-based gourmet ice cream parlor chain Cold Stone Creamery has announced plans to enter the Philippines as it eyes to secure a bigger scoop of the Asian market.

Kahala Corp, Cold Stone’s parent company, said Thursday that it signed a 10-year master franchise agreement with Arizona Ice Cream Corporation, a subsidiary of Trimark Holdings Inc., a company managing various fashion, restaurant and health club brands in the country.

Cold Stone’s first branch is scheduled to open its doors mid-2013 and open fifteen stores over the next five years, according to a statement.

The brand will be pitted against Swensen, another US-based ice cream restaurant chain aggressively expanding in the region. It already has two branches in the Philippines – SM Mall of Asia in 2011 and Eastwood Mall opened last year – targeting similar consumers with a preference and capability to afford relatively steeply priced ice cream.

Together with the Philippine expansion, Cold Stone will also be opening shops in Bangladesh with franchisee Olive Tree Foods.

Its first store in the country will open within the year, marking the first of four stores scheduled to be in business over the next four years.

Cold Creamery’s international expansion shifted to high gear in 2005 with the opening of its first branch in Tokyo, Japan. In total, the brand now operates in 22 countries in more than 420 international locations.

Growing pains?

The brand is bullish on the Philippines market, which traditionally craved for frozen confectioneries now in great demand following record-breaking heat waves in the past months.

But the brand may encounter difficulty winning customers, considering why General Mills shut down its Philippine operations last July, bringing along its iconic premium ice cream brand Haagen-Dazs.

The US-based food giant said that “business in the Philippines has been consistently challenging in all the 12 years that we’ve operated here.” It said it can no longer sustain local operations, leaving them no choice but to pull the plug.

Gary Chu, president of General Mills Greater China, said the company is planning to capitalise on the growing number of rich families across China for the rest of the decade.

Only last September, General Mills subsidiary HD Marketing and Distribution Philippines, Inc. was planning to double its Metro Manila branches to 10 shops through franchising and company-owned outlets.

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