Gelatissimo celebrates 18 years, CEO looks to the future

By Sarah Stowe | 16 Sep 2020 View comments

Gelatissimo has come of age. This year the Aussie gelato business founded by Domenico and Marco Lopresti celebrates its 18th birthday. In his seventh year as CEO of the gelateria chain, Filipe Barbosa talks to Inside Franchise Business Executive about sustaining business while adopting change, taking a measured approach to growth, and expanding overseas.

How has the brand maintained its position in the market given increased competition?

Flavour innovation has been a big part of maintaining our position in the market given the increased competition. Staying tuned to customer’s changing needs and trends has also been key. What a customer wants from their gelato experience today is not the same as it was 18 years ago and that’s not just in the flavours either, it encompasses in-store experiences too!

What is the biggest threat to the Gelatissimo brand?

I think the biggest threat for us is losing the enthusiasm for change. It’s the biggest threat to any brand. To continue and stay in business successfully, one has to recognise that change is not an inconvenience, but rather a necessity.

Now, whether it be in the product mix, the store look and feel, the marketing messaging or any other aspect of a consumer facing business, a loss of excitement about the thought of change is one of the biggest threats in my eyes.

So how do you sustain excitement about change within your franchise team?

It’s not easy. It requires us to stay cognizant of the fact that without evolution the future may not be rosy.

It’s a discussion that we have to bring to the table with our internal teams periodically.

What has been the greatest achievement for the Gelatissimo brand?

There have been several achievements we are proud of and most of them lie around the people involved in our brand. I get the most satisfaction from seeing the successes of independent franchisees when they carve out a name for themselves in their local community.

Others may talk about opening up in a new country, which we have also done a bit of over the years, but for me, it’s about the experience Gelatissimo can bring to the local markets that excite me.

I also get great satisfaction in extending our product offering to be more health focused and providing options in the plant-based and low sugar ranges. This has been something we have spent quite a bit of time developing as we aim to provide choices for all.

How has the Gelatissimo brand altered its business model?

The Gelatissimo business model hasn’t changed much from a retail perspective we just understand it better and know what works and doesn’t work for our business – whether that be in-store size, layout, rental costs etc.

Ultimately, we know what we are good at and that’s great tasting gelato with no artificial colours and flavours, made fresh in-store and hence we continue to offer this core proposition to our customers.

Have there been any significant changes to back end support?

From a human perspective, it’s business as usual with our support offering being focused on doing what the name suggests, support to our retail store and franchisees.

Where changes have come in is through technology, as we look to take advantage of new technologies for things like keeping track of communications, training and project management.

Tech innovations make the day to day side of things easier, more streamlined and efficient and thus allow people the breathing space to focus on activities that help drive sales rather than admin functions.

What are Gelatissimo’s expansion plans?

Slow and steady wins the race. Covid has for us, as it has for most, slowed growth temporarily, but the sun will continue to shine, and we will get back on the path to open a few more stores in Australia, mainly focusing on the east coast and regional Australia.

Right now our focus is squarely on helping our existing network get through this Covid period.

Tell us about international business

It’s certainly a part of the Gelatissimo brand that is important and ultimately, we want to be the world’s number one gelato brand and be able to share with other nations what we have been offering to Australian for 18 years.

We operate in several international markets, for example, Singapore, Philippines and India and will open in the UA market in the next 12 months.

Internationally, the US is our main focus. Stay tuned for what we are confident will be an opening in the not too distant future.