When the pandemic hit, Edible was ready. It already had a dedicated delivery model, made possible by a robust fleet of refrigerated trucks; it had multiple omnichannel platforms customers could use to interact with the brand; its fruit arrangements and chocolate treats offered a way to say “we’re thinking of you” to friends or relatives you could not visit in person. Also working in Edible’s favor? A talented support team and resilient franchisees. To learn more about Edible, which has over 1,000 retail locations, Shopping Center Business recently interviewed its vice president of franchise development, Patricia Perry.
SCB: How many locations does Edible operate today?
Patricia Perry: Edible has 1,000-plus locations within its system. Approximately 99 percent of our stores are franchisee owned and the remaining 1 percent are corporate-owned.
SCB: How many new locations opened in 2019, and what was the growth forecast for 2020 prior to the pandemic — and has that changed?
Perry: In 2019 we added approximately five new stores. Our growth goal in 2020 was to sign 50 new franchise agreements and that goal has not changed. We also had a goal to open 8 to 10 new stores this year. While this number has not changed, the opening timeline for our stores has been altered given the pandemic. We expect to have that number of stores open by the end of the year.
SCB: You have been able to sign a steady stream of franchise agreements even during COVID-19, and sales are up. What’s your secret? Is Edible, with a great delivery model already in place, pandemic-proof?
Perry: Many have referred to us as being pandemic-proof, but our success from the year can be attributed to the strength of the Edible brand, the talented support center team, resilient franchisees and the fact that we have an omnichannel brand. Customers are able to interact with Edible through many different platforms with in-store retail, e-commerce, our shipping component and the robust delivery network of refrigerated vans that can reach 75 percent of the zip codes in the U.S. within 1 hour. These factors along with the changes that were made quickly with new innovation have allowed the brand to flourish during the pandemic.
SCB: Tell us about Edible’s new store prototype.
Perry: The new store prototype is a sneak peek into where Edible is headed in the future — Edible reimagined. As a brand, we are focusing not only on service but the overall experience we can provide to customers. We are also launching new product categories. The prototype creates an experience for customers by bringing the back of the house to the front and makes the creation of our products more visible. Customers can pick up grab-and-go items within the interactive new prototype along with still having the option for curbside pickup. There are many options for customers to purchase Edible products. With the alterations made during the pandemic, customers do not have to come in the store, but if they do, they feel comfortable and are able to see everything being created and that the fruit is handled with proper safety measures. National vendors are used for systemwide initiatives. They also can see and experience all of our new products.
SCB: Where will the first location be, and when do you anticipate all existing locations will have the new look?
Perry: The first store with the new prototype will be in Virginia, which is set to open at the end of 2020. The second store slotted to get the new prototype is in Georgia, followed by 10 to 15 other stores that are in various stages of development. For the new design, we are focusing on locations slated for new development and relocations. Existing stores will not be required to redesign the whole store but instead will incorporate design and finish elements from the new prototype and update various parts of the existing design. We are pleased that several franchisees want to do more and want to revamp their existing stores to the new prototype.
SCB: Which U.S. markets are you targeting for expansion?
Perry: We are focused on areas where we do not have a presence and where our customers are underserviced. These areas include Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, the Dakotas, certain parts of Texas, California and the Midwest.
— Interview by Katie Lee. This article appeared in the November 2020 issue of Shopping Center Business.