21/06/2005 - 22:00

Jesters’ success no laughing matter

21/06/2005 - 22:00


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Double digit growth, expansion overseas and movement into interstate markets are signs of serious business for WA-based jaffle pie company Jesters.

Jesters’ success no laughing matter

Double digit growth, expansion overseas and movement into interstate markets are signs of serious business for WA-based jaffle pie company Jesters.

The franchise that started with one Claremont store in 1997 will merge with interstate-based Shakespeares Holdings Pty Ltd, resulting in Shakespeares Pies stores in Sydney and the Central Coast re-branded to Jesters.

The move makes Jesters the single biggest franchise pie company in Australia, with 66 outlets.

Jesters managing director Richard Anderson said the move would galvanise strong recent growth.

“We are a very small West Australian company trying to expand on three fronts all much bigger than this one,” Mr Anderson said.

Even so, the company employs more than 700 staff, with an annual turnover exceeding $25 million.

Jesters entered the Victorian pie market two years ago and now has 10 stores in Melbourne. Mr Anderson believed the success of these franchises would help grow the brand in Sydney and said there was potential for 100-120 Jesters outlets.

The company has also made the move across the Tasman, with a launch this August in Auckland and plans for 18 stores by the end of the year.

But the fortunes of Jesters haven’t always looked so promising. Rapid growth in 2001-02 quickly resulted in the company expanding to 30 franchises, enjoying strong product recognition but, as Mr Anderson admits, “struggling to find the right message” in efforts to turn around static state sales.

Jesters then began a holistic marketing strategy to get back to the basics of the brand. According to Core Marketing Group managing director Yvonne Renshaw, two years of rapid growth had bred such strong creativity about the product it outshone the message.

Mr Anderson knew Jesters had to focus on the freshness and quality of the product – its true differentiation from what the market understood as pies.

“We were very concerned that we couldn’t take the high ground in health with a pie,” he said.

As Ms Renshaw notes: “No-one had come up with a jaffle pie before and this was Jesters’ sustainable competitive advantage. But no-one had gone ahead and claimed that a pie could be healthy for you.”

Strategic market research suggested Jesters had to distance itself from the negative stereotypes associated with the garden variety Australian pie. In an effort to promote the gourmet nature of its alternative, Jesters sought to capitalise support by the Heart Foundation to endorse the beneficial aspects of jaffle pies.

Responding to global secondary research highlighting the health trend in food, Mr Anderson believed Jesters “struck new ground with health messages in pies”.

This successful advertising campaign leveraged on a clear health message reinvigorated the franchise network and led to strong growth throughout last year. 

Women, the more health conscious consumers, now make up more than half of the Jesters clientele.

Mr Anderson said the effects of a cogent strategic marketing strategy can be seen at all level of the busines

“We now have a marketing campaign we can hang our coat on. Franchises live and die by sales but now we can value add without resistance,” he said.


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