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Tradition drives growth at Gelatino

Take five generations of traditional Sicilian ice-cream making, add more than 30 years of business and franchising experience, and you have a pretty good start to a delicious new business. The result is Gelatino, a new string of company owned and franchised ice-cream and patisserie outlets that have been springing up throughout Perth and the South West over the past nine months. The business began in May last year with the opening of an ice-cream factory in North Perth and the first 32 natural flavours Gelatino gelato, sorbet, yoghurt, coffee and patisserie outlet on the Market Street caf‚ strip in central Fremantle. Since then, similar outlets have opened on Rottnest Island, Mandurah and Margaret River, with new ones planned for Scarborough Beach, Midland Gate, Mt Hawthorn, Northbridge, Hillarys and Dunsborough, which is also earmarked for the business? second ice cream factory within 18 months. Gelatino is the equally owned brainchild of the Romano and Messina families. Frank Romano is the founder of Australian Fast Foods, owner of the Red Rooster and Chicken Treat franchises, and has more than 30 years in franchising. Carmelo Messina is a fourth generation traditional ice-cream maker from Catania in Sicily. He came to Australia in 1977 and the family has operated a number patisseries and cafes in Perth, including the Florentina in Northbridge, before taking on the North Perth ice-cream factory. The business is run on a day-to-day basis by 22-year-olds Melissa Romano and Izzi Messina, the fifth generation of ice-cream makers from the Messina family. Both agree they lean heavily on their fathers for guidance. ?They?ve made all the mistakes,? Izzi said. Business is good, the dynamic duo told WA Business News. During the recent hot spell the $350,000 state-of-the-art ice-cream factory and laboratory turned out a record 4,500 litres of ice-cream a week. Demand is such that a factory upgrade originally expected in two years is now being considered as a matter of urgency. It is a similar story on the franchise side of the business, with turnover and development now about six months ahead of the business plan. Red Herring restaurant owner Ivan Rutherford established the second Gelatino outlet in his Rottnest Island bakery in September. Three months later, a third opened on the estuary at Mandurah and another in Margaret River, operated by Mr Rutherford?s daughter. A new company owned outlet is scheduled for Scarborough Beach next to the Stamford Arms by the end of this month, with another planned for Midland Gate in the near future. Izzi said the mostly franchised expansion route was chosen because it added a new dimension to the business ? the personal input of the owner-operator. ?You?ve got to have passion, not just for ice-cream in our case, but for business. It allows you to value add, to personalise things to build good customer relations and have some fun with it all,? he told WA Business News. ?Taking up a franchise also offers lifestyle changes, depending on the business, the opportunity to do something else in a new environment.? The key to a Gelatino success is location. ?Buying the things we sell is spontaneous. You need plenty of passing trade,? Melissa said. Most interest in Gelatino has come from people with business skills, over 40, some with superannuation money and looking to do something different or change their lifestyles. The 110 square metre Fremantle outlet has generated a lot of inquiries, to the extent that Gelatino has only advertised its franchise opportunities twice in nine months of operation. Fremantle cost $180,000 to set up and outfit, with lease costs of $80,000 a year and labour the major costs. A Gelatino franchise currently costs between $150,000 and $250,000, depending on size and location. For that, Gelatino claims to pretty much take care of everything from site selection, set up and training to promotion and advertising. For the Romanos and Messinas the profits come from ice-cream, yoghurt and other product sales, along with a royalty structure from sales. There is also an advertising/promotional levy. Problems include getting and keeping good staff. Melissa laments the fact that ?my generation just don?t want to work?. Also securing the best central, high-volume walk-by locations. The better they are, the more expensive. Traditional winter sales drop offs are being addressed via new lines and other products, including a new range of hot desserts, to fill the void. Check out the coconut ice cream. COMPANY Gelatino Holdings Pty Ltd. BUSINESS Traditional Italian ice-cream manufacture, sales, patisserie. PROBLEM Expansion. SOLUTION Franchise.

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