Cooking up a sweet scenario
by Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer
The franchisor of Mrs. Fields cookies and TCBY yogurt stores plans to regrow the two quick-service dessert chains in Hawai'i with a new master franchisee.
An affiliate of Salt Lake City-based Mrs. Fields Original Cookies Inc. yesterday announced that CT Business Group bought rights to franchise Mrs. Fields and TCBY stores in Hawai'i as part of a deal that includes franchise rights in Washington state and South Korea.
The Mrs. Fields company said its franchise agreement calls for CT to open 30 new Mrs. Fields or TCBY stores in Hawai'i and Washington over five years, though no specific number per state was announced.
Representatives of Mrs. Fields and CT could not be reached for more information yesterday.
The deal is part of an effort to expand the two franchises following difficult times that included the closing of many stores and a 2008 bankruptcy reorganization by Mrs. Fields.
According to websites for both brands, there are only two TCBY stores in Hawai'i, including one that occupies part of a Subway store in Makiki. Previously there were several stores of both brands, including a high-volume Mrs. Fields store at Ala Moana Center.
Mrs. Fields was founded in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1977 by Debbi Fields, who parlayed her household chocolate chip cookie recipe into a mega-cookie company that at one point had more than 1,000 stores including cookie and pretzel stores under a variety of names. Fields lost control of the business to investors in the 1990s after franchising, and in 2000 the Mrs. Fields company acquired control of TCBY Enterprises Inc. and its chain of about 3,000 yogurt stores.
Over the past decade, Mrs. Fields divested of its pretzel stores and closed many Mrs. Fields and TCBY stores, some of which had been combined into single stores selling Mrs. Fields cookies and TCBY yogurt. In 2008, a financially struggling Mrs. Fields company reorganized through bankruptcy. Today there are about 1,200 franchised and licensed Mrs. Fields and TCBY stores worldwide. The company is pursuing aggressive global expansion through partners.