Established food operators will soon have a new competitor among the mix, with an US-based robotic food franchise announcing it has secured an $18 million agreement to rollout in Australia.
California-based Generation NEXT Franchise Brands revealed it will operate “high-tech robotic vending machines” under its Reis & Irvy’s brand, which sell an array of frozen yoghurts, ice creams and sorbets as well as select toppings.
The deal covers an initial purchase of a minimum of 500 robots over the next five years. No dates for the first machines entering operation were provided, and it is not immediately clear whether these will be spread across the country or focused in particular cities/regions.
Reis & Irvy’s robotic concept of dessert retailing was launched in the US in 2016, and now spans 235 franchisees in four countries.
The Australian arm will be operated by Troy and Michelle Bingham, utilising Mr Bingham’s experience as a former accountant with PWC to make the ambitious growth targets add up.
“We were looking for a business that could generate annuity income, require minimal time and staff once set up, and was in a sector that we knew we could grow over the next 10–15 years,” Mr Bingham said.
“The patented robotics, seamless payment, marketing interactivity, and cloud-based reporting on the supply chain ticked all the boxes. More importantly, the energy, passion and support from the Generation NEXT team to grow a quality brand and product was very exciting to us.”
He added: “We see frozen yogurt as just the first of many other robotic and technology solutions to come.”
Generation NEXT Franchise Brands’ chair Nick Yates, himself an Australian, said booming frozen yoghurt sales in Australia made it a logical destination for its continued overseas expansion.
“The market in Australia loves frozen yogurt and has seen steady growth in consumption over the last five years,” said Mr Yates.
“We believe our product will find a way to disrupt the retail sector and Troy and Michelle know exactly how to ensure that it happens, which will allow our emerging brand, Reis & Irvy’s, to continue its growth around the globe.”
According to the Reis & Irvy’s website, its robots are capable of dispensing up to 60 dessert cups per hour and up to 200 before needing to be refilled, and occupy a 15 sqm footprint.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.