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Monday, May 13, 2002

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Haagen Dazs to chill India soon: US ice-cream major scouting for partners

S. Muralidhar


HAAGEN Dazs, the world's largest super premium ice-cream brand, is on its way to India. Haagen Dazs' officials are said to be scouting for potential partners and franchisees in the country. The ice-cream and frozen dessert brand, widely considered synonymous with high quality, is sold in over 54 countries.

The development could not be immediately confirmed with Haagen Dazs, which is headquartered in New York. However, industry sources said that the company was looking at India foray later this year. The sources also added that company officials had been in the country twice during the past two months and were involved in market assessment and finalising logistics.

Industry sources also said that Haagen Dazs was looking at adopting the boutique-cum-retailing model, where the company's products will be available at both the specially appointed boutique ice-cream stores and general retail outlets. Haagen Dazs operates through a network of over 700 Haagen Dazs cafes, clubs and speciality ice-cream shops in over 54 countries.

Haagen Dazs proposed to initially import the ice-cream, frozen bars and frozen yoghurts in fully-manufactured form, the sources added. The products will be positioned in the super premium ice-cream category, targeting a niche, discerning segment of consumers in the country.

The size of the super premium segment of the ice-cream market in India is expected to be about Rs 200-300 crore. The segment, which for many years did not witness any players, is suddenly abuzz with action. Earlier this year, Movenpick, the Swiss super premium ice-cream brand, entered the Indian market. The Swiss company, which also adopts the boutique-cum-retailing business model, has already set up a network of about four boutique ice-cream outlets, while simultaneously distributing through retailers in Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore.

The premium ice-cream segment, which is a notch lower in pricing and brand positioning, is also likely to witness more action during this year.

Two established players - HLL's Kwality Walls and Baskin Robbins - are planning a repositioning exercise. HLL, which did a U-turn, two years after it announced a low-end ice-cream market thrust, has now wised up and plans to shift focus completely to the premium, top-end segment of the market.

Industry sources also added that Nestle, which has been busy fine-tuning its milk procurement and tying up other logistics issues, was now planning a foray into the ice-cream market. The sources said that since its Dairy Queen brand may not find expected levels of brand awareness, the company was likely to launch its ice-cream under the Nestle brand itself.

Before Haagen Dazs makes its ice-cream available on the shelves, it is likely to work on putting in place the logistics required to import, transport and distribute its products. To this end, warehousing and a cold chain network is being identified, according to the sources.

The history of Haagen Dazs dates back to the 1920s when Mr Reuben Mattus, the founder, worked in his mother's business in New York, selling ice-cream in horse-drawn carriages. Later, he spun off the business into a company and named it Haagen Dazs. The business grew rapidly and spread globally as distribution logistics and popularity of the brand increased. In 1983, Haagen Dazs was bought over by the Pillsbury Company of the US. Haagen Dazs has a range of traditional ice-creams, frozen yoghurt, gelatos, sorbets and frozen ice-cream bars in its product range.

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Haagen Dazs to chill India soon: US ice-cream major scouting for partners

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