28/01/2010 - 00:00

Biff banks on a frozen future

28/01/2010 - 00:00

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Cold and tasty’s how we like it. Russell Quinn reports.

Biff banks on a frozen future

IF there’s one person hoping punters will be drawn to the healthy image of frozen yoghurt as they were to freshly blended juices in recent years, it’s Biff Brody.

Because it was Mr Brody who contributed to the extraordinary growth of fruit fusion drinks businesses in Western Australia, and around the country, when he opened Java Juice in 1996.

He grew the chain to four before selling in 2007.

But Mr Brody is now banking on frozen yoghurt’s live cultures to pick up where blended juices’ benefits left off and similarly assist the launch of what he claims to be the first self-serve frozen yoghurt outlet in the country.

Since November last year, Mr Brody has been operating the Madzoon kiosk at Westfield’s Carousel shopping centre in Cannington.

He learned of the Madzoon concept during one of his many trips back to his native US, and decided to bring it back to WA as he had done with the Java Juice business.

“I often go back to the US for business and pleasure and it [Madzoon] is something I’ve been watching in California for the last few years,” Mr Brody told Gusto.

“I saw this concept, I thought it was exciting, I thought it was fun and I thought it had legs.”

Mr Brody says he decided against opening a traditional yoghurt store or “strip shop” as used in the US, opting instead for a free-standing kiosk in a high pedestrian traffic area to reduce overheads.

“Staff is a big problem in this country and in WA and I think I have solved that problem,” he says.

“Really, one person could run it, once it gets going and people know what they’re doing and they don’t need an introduction as much – one person could do it.

“Even at the busiest time when you’re doing 100 cups (of yoghurt) in an hour, two people can run it.

“These other places like your Dome, Gloria Jeans or a Java Juice could have three, four, five or even six staff.

“A franchisee could run this with their 12-year-old kid.”

Mr Brody negotiated a six-year, $65,000 per annum lease with Westfield, spent about $200,000 fitting out his kiosk (including four yoghurt dispensing machines at $20,000 each) and gave $25,000 to David Lee from Food Matters, a food technologist consultancy service, to ensure the recipes and flavours were just right.

Mr Brody says WA’s lack of deregulated trading hours (which he was banking on being introduced to help facilitate Madzoon’s success), and establishing relationships with key suppliers including Mundijong dairy, Mundella, have been the greatest challenges to date.

But he expects educating consumers about the benefits of yoghurt will continue to be a problem for the business.

To counter this he recently spent about $3,500 distributing 30,000 promotional flyers around the Cannington neighbourhood, and ensures samples to passing customers play a big part of his daily activities.

“It will grow to a tremendous height but the take off will take a little longer,” Mr Brody says.

“We even feel it could be a bolt-on into a coffee shop where we bring two machines and a smaller set up.

“But what am I worried about? Competition. I want to make sure I’m able to outrun other people and am able to grow the business.”

 

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