Correction: Corrects Rob Price's title.
While it may not be a widely touted measure of consumer sentiment on Wall Street, demand is indeed running high for exquisitely designed, fresh fruit baskets this holiday season, said Rob Price, president of Edible Arrangements.
"We are very pleased to see that people are trading up to more exciting arrangements, more exotic arrangements, but also some of our new dipped-fruit varieties," said Price, adding that on the inflation front, the price of strawberries has spiked in recent months, but costs have in general remained stable.
Edible Arrangements, founded in 1999 in East Haven, Conn., is the world's largest franchiser of shops offering fresh-cut fruit arrangements, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchise locations worldwide. Select Edible Arrangements locations also carry the company's "Edible To Go" line of fresh fruit smoothies, dipped fruit, freshly squeezed juices and sundaes. Price said he is looking to add up to 70 new locations in the U.S. next year. He is also looking to add a few dozen more stores in China which he called his top international growth market.
As to why a potential franchisee would opt for an Edible Arrangements store, as opposed to a fast food restaurant or some other enterprise, Price said the business-to-business gifting arena is a huge area of growth and attractive to potential store operators.
Of course, the gifting or gift basket market is crowded, but Price does not feel constrained by his competition, whether it be 1-800-Flowers.com (FLWS) - Get Report , Etsy (ETSY) - Get Report or Jamba (JMBA) - Get Report on the smoothie front.
"Whether it's smoothies or whether it is our dipped fruit or an arrangement, the one thing about our product is that it is easy to share and easy to add to an occasion," said Price. "It also has the gifting element to it, where there is visual beauty, where it creates a real conversation piece at a party."
Finally, Price admitted that Edible Arrangements has seen a number of inquiries from investment bankers seeking to take the company public, but right now, he is focusing on growing the business.
"If there are some major growth opportunities for us that might require public financing, it's something I suspect that could be considered in the future," said Price. "But we are blessed that the business is strong and vibrant and growing enough that it is not a necessity for the growth of our business."