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Amanda and Daniel Gestetner

Words Richard Dunnett Portrait Gary Moyes
  • The husband-and-wife team behind 10m frozen yoghurt brand Yoomoo explain why it pays to think global when launching a new business

    Amanda Gestetner: In 2009, we looked at moving to Los Angeles. We didn't obviously, but we witnessed the frozen yoghurt phenomenon there and saw a gap in the UK market. We initially discussed bringing an existing US brand to the UK but that didn't stack up for us. We're quite entrepreneurial so we decided to start our own.

    Daniel Gestetner:
    The reason was simple: value is in the brand. My background is in consumer brands. Taking a franchise of another brand is an easier route to start a business but you have less value. We wanted to create the IP around a brand.

    Amanda Gestetner: The trend towards healthy eating is huge. Everyone wants a permissible treat, and yoghurt is a healthier treat than ice cream. After six months of research we approached investors in March 2010. They jumped on board and we launched the company that June. Our first shop opened in Harrods in the September but it was always the plan to expand.

  • Daniel Gestetner: We started with 1.5m investment and big ambitions. We weren't looking to open one or two yoghurt shops, we were looking to build a global brand and that meant investing in packaging, design, PR and marketing. We targeted to open three [stores] in our first year and we opened five or six.

    Amanda Gestetner: The business really took off in the second year. We launched our supermarket product in March 2012 in 2,500 stores including Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose. We spent 2.4m on advertising and launched a TV campaign.

    Daniel Gestetner: Supermarkets are always hesitant about going into new categories. I was a buyer at Tesco in the early Nineties so I know how they operate. Our market research showed that supermarket customers were demanding frozen yoghurt and they bought into it.

    Amanda Gestetner: We partnered on the supermarket side with a company called R&R, the biggest private-label ice cream manufacturer in Europe. We sold 2.5 million pots in our first season.

    Daniel Gestetner: We split the supermarket business last year and sold a controlling stake to R&R in January this year. It was a multimillion-pound deal. We have happy investors and we're happy. We've a minority stake in that business now and we retained worldwide perpetual rights to retail the franchise but they have the supermarket bit. As a brand we expect up to 10m in sales this year, and want to take that to 50m in the next five years. We're not going to open more of our own stores. Our plan is to build the retail and franchise business and then sell it in the next few years.

    Amanda Gestetner: We have franchise stores in Ibiza, Switzerland, Greece, Cyprus, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and we're about to launch in Benelux, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Thailand, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar. Daniel Gestetner: Splitting and selling control of the supermarket business so quickly has freed up a lot of my time as CEO to focus on signing deals on the international side, while Amanda's role is the branding and marketing. The world is now such a small place you can't build a brand and be UK-centric. You have to think global.

    Amanda Gestetner: You have to police the brand and ensure consistency. Every piece of marketing collateral, every image, every sentence, every word they [franchisees] want to put anywhere has to be policed. They love the Yoomoo brand because it's quirky, fun, personal, engaging and they can identify with it. But they don't have creative expression. There are boundaries. Every region has its own cultural influences. It's about being flexible enough to make it work while keeping it on brand.

    Daniel Gestetner: One of the big advantages we have being a European business over the Americans, for example, is they are very rigid in their approach to business. It's a cookie-cutter approach to business and that doesn't work around the world.

    Amanda Gestetner: People always ask how we can be husband and wife (for 16 years) bringing up three children and work together. I say that's why it works so well. We have separate roles. There's a good understanding of our roles and complete respect for each other's strengths. We've always been aligned with that and we've never had any major difference in opinion.

    Daniel Gestetner: Day to day, we don't tread on each other's toes but we will make big strategic decisions together. We are both 24/7 you can't switch off but you don't want to switch off because you're engaged by what you're doing.