Big squeeze on in fresh juice sector

THE squeeze is on in the juice bar business, with a frenetic 12 months ahead as local operators and large eastern States franchise operations rush to open stores in Western Australia.

Melbourne-based Boost Juice plans to open three outlets in the coming months, taking its total operations in WA to eight stores.

A Boost Juice will open in Subiaco and a further two stores in the CBD.

The Perth CBD has, until now, been the only business district in any State where Boost Juice lacks a presence.

Boost Juice has more than 70 stores nationally. 

East coast operator Pulp, in which Richard Branson’s Virgin Group recently secured a 20 per cent investment, will open its first WA stores within a year.

Local players Frugivorous and Java Juice intend to add to their company-owned juice bar chains.

They join a raft of other planned juice bar openings slated for high-traffic retail strips and shopping centres in the next year.

According to Lease Equity director Jim Tsagalis, every major regional shopping centre would have at least one juice bar operator.

“About 12 months ago one bar would be it, but some of the major property trusts now have two juice bars and we will see a plethora of them open in the CBD especially,” Mr Tsagalis said.

The growing popularity of juice bars is winning over shopping centre managers across Perth.

Garden City centre manager Andrew Byars said a new juice bar concept operated by the Retail Food Group, which operates Donut King and BB’s Espresso, is due to open in the next month.

“They will open and sell the juices and fruit salads,” Mr Byars said.

He said it would be a shop rather than a kiosk set up, and would complement a number of other retailers that were offering healthy products and juices.

“We’ve got a Boost Juice here and there are places like Pure and Natural doing juices. We have a store called Teaz that sells sushi but they do the juices too,” Mr Byars said.

Locally owned and operated juice bar Frugivorous opened its first outlet in Carillion Arcade in 1999.

It now has a store in Fremantle, Victoria Park and Whitford City, and according to operations manager Mark Fernandez, there is more room to grow.

“Normally we follow the US with food trends and over there there are 15,000 juice outlets with about 100 different major players,” Mr Fernandez said.

Java Juice has two juice bars located on Hay Street in the city but it opened its first store in WA in 1996, making it the first juice bar in Australia according to owner, Biff Brody.

“We were the first in Australia to do what we’re doing. It took off pretty well straight away and its been growing steadily,” Mr Brody said. 

“We haven’t got a franchise because I haven’t wanted to. We wouldn’t be able to maintain the quality of product and service because you lose control.”

Mr Brody said the juice bar was not a fad, but over the next 12 to 18 months, consumers would become more aware of the difference in product blended by the different juice bar operators.

“If it’s fruit flavoured ice-cream that’s blended into a milkshake you’ll have a hard time,” Mr Brody said.

“It’s going to come down to product. For people to get a better juice they just need to look at what’s going in it. How much fruit is going in.”

“If it’s a fantastic product then it can’t be a fad. There were yoga shops every 50 metres in the US and when it completely crashed yoga shops still existed. There are some that do very well. In the same way it happened in coffee.”

Frugivorous’s Mark Fernandez said convenience and consistency of product would be crucial for success as more competitors entered the market.

“It’s a bit like coffee in that we need to educate the consumer on what is a good smoothie,” he said.

“Competition is healthy because the consumer will decide which product is better.”

Mr Brody said he was approached by several people each week about franchise possibilities.

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