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BROOMALL, Pa. -- Swiss Farms, which has operated for 40 years in Delaware Country, Pa., is branching out through franchising, with plans to open 100 new units in the next five years.
The drive-through store operator's first franchise location scheduled to open next spring in Camden County, N.J., according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Swiss Farms plans to expand throughout the Philadelphia region, with both franchised and company-owned locations.
"It's been a Delaware County staple of a long time, done very well. There's no reason it can't be everywhere," CEO Paul Friel, who joined Swiss Farms two years ago after working for 20 years for Wawa and Sunoco, told the newspaper.
The chain's first franchisee, John Betz, is a veteran franchisee of Auntie Anne's pretzels and Starbucks Coffee. Betz's first store will be the one in Somerdale; he and his team have committed to opening 3 Swiss Farms stores in the next 3 years.
Maureen Fries, a regular customer at the Swiss Farms location on Route 420, was surprised Swiss Farms wasn't already in New Jersey. "This is really convenient," she told the newspaper, as an employee loaded lemonade, teacooler -- ice tea with a bit of lemonade -- and a Halloween-themed box of Herr's potato chips into her red Lincoln town car. "One of the reasons Swiss Farms is so successful is that the employees here are some of the most polite employees I've ever met."
Fries said she liked the chain's recently added produce line, which includes potatoes and onions to its lineup.
Rick George, a professor of food marketing at St. Joseph's University, has long been a fan of Swiss Farms, which he characterized as a scaled-down version of a convenience store. "That has some real, real opportunity to it," particularly if Swiss Farms can find a way to sell more take-home meals in a future where people cook less and less, he said.
A new store design, scheduled to debut next month on MacDade Boulevard in Folsom, will allow the retailer, which was founded in 1968 as a retail outlet for Wengert's Dairy in Lebanon, Pa., to move in that direction, the newspaper reported.
The new design is twice as big as some of the older stores and will offer substantially more items, including rotisserie chicken, which is one of the top items sold through the express lane in supermarkets, said Rob Coldwell, Swiss Farms' franchise development director.
Swiss Farms stores average $1.6 million in sales a year, Friel said.
Swiss Farms Takes On Grocery