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Smoothie King continues store expansion amid pandemic

Smoothie King continues to grow its footprint. 

The smoothie/juice bar brand, which has 973 domestic locations and 222 international stores, has maintained a steady development pace since the start of the year. So far this year, it has opened 31 U.S. locations and 119 international locations while also signing 38 U.S. franchise agreements. 

[Further Reading: Smoothie King ‘Smooths’ Operations with Tablet-Based POS]

Smoothie King expects to open a total of 80 new U.S. locations by the end of 2020. During the next five months, the company is aiming for continued development in the following markets: Baltimore, Birmingham, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and Phoenix.

Smoothie King said it had a 14% system-wide increase in sales for July. This includes the brand's 400-plus drive-thru locations, which are averaging a 26% increase for the month versus 2019 sales data. 

"Our franchise system continues to grow because of our brand's mission and vision and how we help our franchisees fulfill those promises," said Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim. "The momentum we gained during the pandemic by focusing on our guests' needs has set us up for an exciting and dynamic year in terms of both sales and store growth.”

Smoothie King has introduced several new initiatives since the beginning of the pandemic to meet the convenience and safety needs of customers. In February 2020, it began rolling out its digital initiatives, launching online ordering for in-store pickup on its loyalty app and webpage.

The brand then launched curbside pickup in early April and announced an exclusive delivery partnership with DoorDash in early May to make living a healthy and active lifestyle more convenient while expanding the brand's reach. 

"We were pleased that our digital rollout happened as quickly as it did," said Kim. "After we introduced online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery, digital sales surged well past our expectations. Moving forward, these initiatives will only continue to help both our company and our franchisees capitalize on shifting guest trends." 

To support its franchise owners during the pandemic, Smoothie King deferred all royalty payments and technology fees and completely waived national advertising for March and April. Consequently, Smoothie King franchisees were able to retain 100% of their cashflow to operate their businesses during the hardest months of the pandemic so far.

The Smoothie King development team has also worked to support franchisees as they negotiated with their landlords to alleviate their monthly rent obligations by either deferring payments or forgiving them altogether. 

Other franchisee-support tactics Smoothie King has implemented during the current pandemic include holding weekly franchisee webinars covering topics like applying for PPP loans, developing a COVID response plan and marketing promotions to encourage online ordering and drive sales.

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