United Sweets brings candy south

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2013
SWEET SUCCESS:  United Sweets co-director Finn Puklowski says that because of a rapidly expanding internet business, United Sweets is preparing to open a shop in Porirua. They are developing their standardised kiosk model, which will include bulk units which allow customers to buy lots of jelly beans of their favourite flavour.
Fairfax NZ

SWEET SUCCESS: United Sweets co-director Finn Puklowski says that because of a rapidly expanding internet business, United Sweets is preparing to open a shop in Porirua. They are developing their standardised kiosk model, which will include bulk units which allow customers to buy lots of jelly beans of their favourite flavour.

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Wellingtonians are likely to see a few more jelly-bellies in the coming weeks with the opening of a rapidly expanding sweet shop chain in Porirua.

United Sweets, a Hamilton-based family startup, has kiosks skittling down the country as part of a nationwide franchise roll out.

The company, launched in late 2011, stocks a range of international candy, snacks and drinks, and opened a new kiosk in North City Shopping Centre yesterday.

United Sweets chief executive Finn Puklowski, 22, said the company had three stores but a further six were planned for this year.

"We're currently based in Hamilton and Auckland but now our next step is Wellington and then Christchurch.

"This will be the first in Wellington but probably a good five going in there."

Originally an online store, the company has grown to distribute more than 900 different products, of which 200 are sold in store.

These included snacks such as Twinkies and Jelly Belly gourmet jelly beans.

United Sweets had "cracked and surpassed" $1 million in revenue for the first year, he said.

The focus for the second year was on developing standardised kiosk models, with an eye to franchising in Australia in the next one or two years.

"Every shop is going to be the same in the country, which is really cool.

"We've installed bulk Jelly Belly units so you can get your favourite gourmet jelly bean by the single flavour. We're installing it into Wellington one month after it opens."

Puklowski said the company's franchise model would share online revenue among the franchisee outlets.

"We're developing a franchise model at the moment which is really going to blow other franchises out of the water.

"We're preparing our franchisees for the movement from bricks and mortar retail to online."

Essentially, franchisees would receive the gross profit from an online transaction recorded in their area.

The company had over 36,000 fans on its Facebook page who, Puklowski said, had helped to develop the business.

"The reason why we started developing retail was the fact that we had surpassed demand online.

"People were saying ‘Oh you should be in my neighbourhood' . . . so we even did things like let people vote on where the next shop should be.

"Our online presence is massive; I think we had 2.3 million impressions on Facebook, which is like half the country, which is just silliness."

He projected online sales would grow in excess of 300 per cent in the next five to 10 years.

Wellington dietitian Amanda Johnson said it was difficult to say whether the opening of a candy store would have any impact on people's consumption of such products.

She said many of the products United Sweets would be selling were similar to many products currently available - just different brands.

People who wanted to consume confectionary products should keep them to a very occasional treat, she said.

"High-sugar confectionary foods should not be consumed on an everyday basis.

"Such foods provide energy and relatively little else. They lack vitamins and minerals and other nutrients, and are not essential to the diet."

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She said a Ministry of Health report published last year showed chocolate, confectionary, fancy biscuits and soft drinks were consumed at least once a week by nearly 50 per cent of children.

Among those aged between 15 and 18, sweets and lollies were consumed more than three times a week by 43 per cent of females, and by 35 per cent of males.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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