Pinkberry moves from core markets to Dallas

LOS ANGELES The Pinkberry frozen yogurt chain opened in Dallas its 77th location on Friday, the first store in the United States to open outside the chain’s core markets of California and New York.

Pinkberry has one franchise unit, respectively, in both Kuwait and Dubai, opened by M.H. Alshaya, a franchisee that earlier this year announced plans to open 35 stores in the Middle East. But the Dallas location, operated by franchisee Saxton Pierce Restaurant Corp., or SPRC, marks the beginning of a new stage of domestic expansion for the chain, which first opened in Los Angeles in 2005.

“Adding a franchise partnership in Texas is a big step for the brand, as it marks a significant expansion into a new area of the United States,” said Ron Graves, Pinkberry’s chief executive.

Earlier this week, the chain announced plans to expand to seven more U.S. markets — as well as Mexico — with area developer franchise partners. Agreements have been signed for Pinkberry stores to open in Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Orlando, Fla., Miami, New Orleans and the state of Colorado, officials said, though the franchise partners were not identified.

In May, Pinkberry officials said the company was poised for rapid expansion after a$9 million infusion [3] from both current and new investors. The funding followed a $27.5 million investment in 2007 by private-equity firm Maveron LLC, which was co-founded by Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz.

Pinkberry’s move into Dallas is also significant because the city is home to rival frozen yogurt brand Red Mango, which has 57 stores open in California, New York, Arizona, Ohio, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Texas, Utah and Washington. Three more Red Mangos are scheduled to open next week in Texas, where six stores are currently open.

SPRC is also based in Dallas and is the largest franchise operator of the McAlister’s Deli brand. Graves said SPRC plans to open “several more” stores in Dallas.

The Dallas location will also be the first to debut Pinkberry’s newest flavor: chocolate. Officials describe the chain’s version as “rich and dark in taste but light and delicate in texture,” while still being low fat and offering the probiotic benefits of yogurt. The flavor is scheduled to be rolled out to other Pinkberry locations on Nov. 27, officials said.

In addition to chocolate, Pinkberry flavors now include original, pomegranate, coconut, passionfruit and green tea.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] [4]