Rocky Mountain Chocolate launches yogurt concept

by Eric Schroeder
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DURANGO, COLO. — Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Inc., an international franchiser of gourmet chocolate and confection stores, announced its entry into the frozen yogurt market with the launch of a new self-serve yogurt concept through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Aspen Leaf Yogurt, Inc. The company hopes to have four Aspen Leaf Yogurt stores open by the end of fiscal 2011.

“We strongly believe our new self-serve frozen yogurt franchise concept, Aspen Leaf Yogurt, represents a natural complement to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory brand,” said Frank Crail, chairman and chief executive officer of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. “Aspen Leaf Yogurt provides the company and its franchisees an exciting new growth opportunity in the rapidly growing ‘better-for-you’ segment of the estimated multi-billion dollar frozen yogurt market. We consider the self-serve frozen yogurt concept a great retail model because of the vast number of potential locations available and the ability to involve customers directly in the process of ‘personalizing’ their dessert creations.”

Bryan Merryman, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, added the ability to feature Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory products in Aspen Leaf Yogurt stores should distinguish Aspen Leaf Yogurt from its competitors.

Separately, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory posted a 7% increase in net income in the second quarter. Net income in the quarter ended Aug. 31 was $943,000, equal to 16c per share on the common stock, up from $882,000, or 15c per share, in the second quarter of fiscal 2010. Net sales for the quarter totaled $6,627,000, up 9% from $6,087,000.

The company said same-store sales at franchised retail outlets fell 0.7% during the quarter. Total factory sales rose 7%, primarily due to higher sales to the franchise system, including Cold Stone Creamery co-branded locations, and a 26% increase in shipments of product to customers outside the company’s network of franchised retail stores.

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