- Focus Brands, parent company of Auntie Anne's, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister's Deli, Moe's Southwest Grill and Schlotsky's, is accelerating its non-traditional unit growth and has 313 such units in the pipeline, according to a press release.
- The company currently has 954 non-traditional units located at airports, convenience stores, amusement parks, colleges, ghost kitchens and other high-trafficked venues across the U.S.
- Focus Brands has been exploring new unit types in recent years, including drive-thrus for Auntie Anne's/Jamba, which opened earlier this year in Texas. The company has also expanded the number of autonomous robots serving Jamba, which is co-branded with Blendid, in big box retailers like Walmart.
Focus Brands' emphasis on non-traditional growth isn't anything new for the company, as it has been expanding this way for nearly a decade. While areas like travel centers and universities saw a decrease in traffic during lockdowns associated with the pandemic, many of these areas are now recovering as students have returned to campuses and U.S. residents are resuming their vacation and travel plans. Other companies like Woworks and Dunkin' have also accelerated their non-traditional growth strategies as consumers return to more normalcy.
Establishing a network of diverse unit locations will help Focus Brands move away from mall locations, where brands like Auntie Anne's and Cinnabon have been mainstays for many years. Franchises with large mall presences face declining foot traffic as malls become less desirable places for consumers to shop.
Focus Brands also joins a growing list of restaurants that have partnered with Ghost Kitchens Brands this year. The holding company has opened nine Cinnabon ghost kitchens through this partnership in Canada and the U.S. Most of Ghost Kitchen Brands locations are in Walmart stores. Many brands, including Dickey's, Saladworks, Rego Restaurant Group, Wow Bao and Nathan's Famous, have already partnered with Ghost Kitchen Brands to expand their reach without having to invest in new real estate.
In 2021, Focus Brands signed a deal with Pilot Travel Centers to open 10 Cinnabon locations at travel plazas and Mountain Express signed a deal to open 50 Scholtzky's and five Moe's to travel plazas in the Southeast. The company will open two additional Jamba units in airports. Focus Brands will bring Auntie Anne's to Six Flags for the first time, opening two locations at Six Flags over Texas in the coming months.
Focus Brands also continues to target college markets for its Jamba, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne's and Carvel concepts in high-traffic downtown college towns. The company opened a co-branded Auntie Anne's and Cinnabon near the University of Cincinnati in October and a co-branded Jamba/Auntie Anne's is expected to open near Auburn University next year.