Jamba Juice launches next phase of growth

Nation’s Restaurant News speaks to Jamba Inc. chief executive James White on acceleration into health-and-wellness brand

Pronouncing the turnaround complete, Jamba Juice officials on Monday outlined a second phase of the smoothie chain’s ongoing plan to accelerate its growth into a global health-and-wellness brand.

James White, chief executive of Jamba Juice parent Jamba Inc., told Nation’s Restaurant News Monday that the company has achieved all the goals its set three years ago with its BLEND turnaround plan.

The plan’s goals included transforming the chain into a more franchised brand through refranchising; bringing more food offerings to the menu that have built same-store sales across all dayparts; building a retail presence with branded consumer packaged goods, or CPG products; and initiating international growth.

The Emeryville, Calif.-based chain said company-store same-store sales for fiscal 2011 will likely be on the high end of the predicted increase of between 2 percent and 4 percent.

For fiscal 2012, the company is projecting same-store sales increases between 3 percent and 4 percent for company-owned stores, White said, with 40 to 50 new locations scheduled to open in the United States, as well as 10 to 15 in international locations.

This year, however, Jamba Juice will face a new competitor as Starbucks Corp. opens the first of its new juice bar concepts [3].

The Seattle-based coffeehouse giant last year acquired the Evolution Fresh juice brand, saying a new juice chain concept would debut later this year, in addition to its ongoing growth of retail juice products.

White has said he welcomes the competitive challenge, noting it will raise awareness for the Jamba Juice and the health-and-wellness category as a whole.

Calling the next phase BLEND Plan 2.0, White outlined several initiatives scheduled for 2012 to take Jamba Juice to the next level:

Become a top-of-mind brand: Jamba plans to simplify and sharpen its marketing message to better clarify value and make the brand more relevant, White said.

Last week the chain launched a new platform of Fit n’ Fruitful smoothies designed for weight management. The line includes smoothies with 14 essential vitamins and minerals that offer two servings of fruit made with a “Weight Burner Boost” made with conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which some say can aid weight loss.

More specialty beverages, smoothies and food extensions are coming for all dayparts, White said, although he would not reveal details.

The chain also plans to use brand spokeswoman and tennis champion Venus Williams, a Jamba Juice franchisee, in marketing programs to promote active living, he said.

Embody health: The company is planning programs to engage workers and encourage them to embody healthful living and improve their knowledge of nutrition.

Aiming to “drive greater community focus and activation,” White said Jamba has partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Jobs Corps to take interns from the culinary program into Jamba Juice units.

Nontraditional growth: Franchise growth will focus more on nontraditional venues, including airports, transportation hubs, grocery stores, big-box outlets, school cafeterias and college campuses.

At the end of the fiscal year, Jamba Juice had 750 locations, of which 443 were franchise owned.

One of the key growth opportunities is the development of JambaGo [4], an express, self-service variation offering pre-blended smoothies and other bottled Jamba-brand beverages.

Jamba currently is testing the self-serve option in 30 locations, mostly elementary and secondary schools, and White said the company should have several hundred open before the end of the year.

“Jamba is becoming the go-to resource for healthy solutions for school foodservice directors,” he said.

Internationally, the chain has 19 franchise locations and a commitment from three franchise partners for the development of more than 300 units over the next decade in South Korea, the Philippines and Canada.

As it moves into international markets with its retail locations, Jamba also plans to build on its CPG presence outside the United States, he said.

Reduce costs: The company plans to better use technology to drive store-level productivity and look for ways to improve efficiency in the supply, sourcing and distribution process, White said.

For example, the chain last year said it is testing a program with Google Wallet that allows guests to pay and redeem coupons with their smartphones.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] [5].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout [6]