In the news
Franchisees Buy Candy Bouquet
After maxing out every credit card, tapping every retirement account and spending only a year as Candy Bouquet International franchisees, Jim and Janet Wheeler of Houston, Texas, have bought out their franchisor for an undisclosed sum.
Jim Wheeler, a physician and medical legal consultant, opened a Candy Bouquet franchise after health problems forced him to initially cut back his medical practice. They have reportedly paid about $70,000 to renovate a portion of the office building that houses Wheeler’s medical practice for their franchise fulfillment center, where they make candy bouquets for online customers and phone orders in Houston.
Founder and former CEO Margaret McClain McEntire started the franchise from her Little Rock, Arkansas, kitchen table in 1989, and once crafted her own Uniform Franchise Offering Circular—or what is today a Franchise Disclosure Document. According to Jim Wheeler, the franchise has more than 300 franchisees in 30 countries on six continents. At one point it had more than 500.
The new franchisors were busy training franchisees from Alaska, Colorado and Texas by late January. Wheeler told Franchise Times the franchisor couple plans to offer more products, volume discounting, increase staff by 20 percent and offer better health insurance.
Wheeler will continue to practice medicine part-time.
Choice and AAHOA repair relationship
Following a brouhaha over comments made by a Choice Hotels executive, and allegations of unfair practices, the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association (AAHOA) has agreed to keep Choice Hotels as a member.
“That is all fine,” said AAHOA President Fred Schwartz following a sit-down meeting with Choice executives. “We are delighted and pleased that Choice and AAHOA are back together.”
In a strongly worded letter to Choice in September 2011, AAHOA’s board decided it would be best if Choice and AAHOA’s 11,000 members, who own 20,000 hotels in the U.S., “go our separate ways and not renew Choice’s membership for 2012.” AAHOA had levied a number of allegations, including “a host of unfair business practices” by Choice that had not been adequately addressed in the past few years, thus violating the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
Schwartz said there was a “lot of constructive and open dialogue” at the groups’ January détente, and that it “actually helped to build a stronger relationship.”
Hotels hit by discounts
U.S. hotel owners collectively discounted their room rates to online travel web sites by an estimated $2.7 billion in 2010, and more than doubled the $1.3 billion in commissions paid to travel agents, according to a recent report conducted by Smith Travel Research and American Hotel & Lodging.
Discounted rooms accounted for about 25 percent of the approximately $10 billion in room revenue booked online. And hotel owners, on average, reportedly provide just under 11 percent of their domestic rooms to third-party sites, according to the study.
Sweet supermarket additive
Red Mango may soon be coming to a grocery store near you.
United Supermarkets has formed a joint venture with Red Mango, a frozen yogurt and smoothie franchise, with plans to test an in-store concept to offer the brand to its customers.
The Texas-based supermarket chain has more than 50 locations, however the initial agreement was to open one Red Mango counter at its Judge Ely Boulevard location in Abilene, Texas. At presstime, the opening was scheduled for late February.
It still hasn’t been decided how many Red Mango locations will go into grocery stores, but if the partnership proves successful, “it’s possible we could add Red Mango to at least two more stores in the near future,” said a United Supermarkets spokesperson.
United was approached by Red Mango multi-unit franchisee, Buddy Beach of Beach Ventures, about the possibility of pursuing a partnership. The supermarket’s coffee shop had been underperforming, and “It seemed like a great test-marketing opportunity,” the spokesperson said.
Red Mango will also sell the supermarkets’ brand coffee by the cup.
Since opening in July 2007, Red Mango has opened more than 150 locations in the U.S.