The South African arm of Anglo-Dutch consumer goods producer Unilever has acquired two leading ice cream retail brands from the local company Pleasure Foods.
The Juicy Lucy and Milky Lane businesses will become part of Unilever's Ola ice cream unit there (the local version of its Heart brand known as Wall's in the UK, Algida in Italy and Langnese in Germany).
The move will mark Unilever's first foray into the ice cream retailing arena in Africa, according to South African publication Business Day.
The new franchising division will be headed by two South African retail specialists, Craig MacKenzie and Wayne Duncan, whose expertise in the local franchise market should combine well with Ola's marketing, innovation and ice cream supply systems knowledge, to say nothing of Unilever's impressive global brands portfolio.
The Milky Lane and Juicy Lucy brands will remain intact, and the new owners will seek further franchise opportunities in South Africa and neighbouring countries, Business Day reports.
The move is part of Unilever's much publicised expansion plan for its core Heart brand ice cream. Earlier this year, the company announced that it was to increase its investment in marketing and product development at the Ola ice cream business by 20 per cent in a bid to increase its share of the global ice cream market from its current 17 per cent.
Ola's marketing director in South Africa, Kerren Janssen, told Business Day that the medium-term aim involved at least doubling turnover at Juicy Lucy and Milky Lane by building on Unilever's marketing and innovation expertise. Ola already operates ice cream retail businesses in Europe and the Far East.
Milky Lane and Juicy Lucy have a combined annual turnover of R115 million (€12.2m), with 88 Milky Lane stores and 54 Juicy Lucy outlets.