April 06, 2011 // Franchising.com // (Panama City, Panama)--- Tasti D-Lite, the great-tasting, better-for-you frozen dessert chain with a cult following among celebrities and other health-conscious consumers in the United States, will soon be expanding into Central America. The company has signed an agreement with Luis Velutini to open 30 centers over 10 years across a seven-country Central American region, the first of which is expected to open in Panama City before the end of the year.
Velutini, 36, spent the past 13 years working for Procter & Gamble in various marketing positions. Two other Procter & Gamble alums, Carlos Rojas and Alonso Requena, are partners in this venture and will be lending their entrepreneurial experience to Velutini from their home countries of Colombia and Venezuela, respectively. Rojas is the general manager of the Mail Boxes Etc. Master Franchise in Colombia and Requena owns and operates an industrial services company in Venezuela.
The trio of entrepreneurs didn't specifically seek out a frozen treat franchise but rather were looking for a solid U.S. concept to bring to Central America. They found what they were looking for in Tasti D-Lite, which has a 24-year track record and a management team with close to 350 years of combined franchising experience. Tasti D-Lite's CEO Jim Amos has been a prominent leader in franchising for more than 30 years, having grown Mail Boxes, Etc. to more than 4,000 units before selling the business to UPS in 2001. He also is the chairman of the board of Procter & Gamble's franchising venture, Agile Pursuits.
"The management team certainly drew me to the brand," said Velutini. "And then when I traveled to Mexico City, home to one of Tasti's newest international locations, I saw firsthand how popular it was and loved the product myself. With a proprietary product, a superior nutritional profile and unmatched product quality, the Tasti D-Lite concept is a perfect fit with the kind of differentiated business opportunity we were looking for."
Since its inception in 1987, Tasti D-Lite's popularity has grown largely by word of mouth and has resulted in a huge base of raving fans who line up day and night to get their favorite guilt-free treat, available in more than 100 flavors.
"Unfortunately, we have an issue with obesity in Panama," said Velutini. "It is estimated that 34 percent of adults here are obese. We believe Panamanians will embrace the product knowing it's a much healthier alternative to other frozen dessert options in the country."
With Tasti D-Lite, health-conscious individuals can enjoy a dessert that is made with natural ingredients including real dairy, contains no artificial sweeteners and is lower in calories, carbs and sugar than ice cream and leading frozen yogurt brands. Thanks to unsolicited international exposure on TV shows such as "30 Rock," "Sex and the City" and "The Apprentice" along with new store openings, demand for the brand has grown worldwide. Tasti D-Lite is now poised for growth throughout the U.S. and around the world with plans to build a global 500-center franchise network through a combination of single- and multi-unit franchises, area developers and international master franchises.
"Luis, Carlos and Alonso come from one of the finest and most respected companies in the world," said Amos. "The brand-building knowledge and experience they gained at P&G will help them succeed with their new venture and will help us expand the Tasti D-Lite brand in this increasingly important region."
Tasti D-Lite first launched its franchise program in 2008. Since then, the company has grown to 50 locations and has secured commitments to open over 300 locations in the coming years. Today it has locations open in ten states. Internationally, the company already has locations in Mexico and the United Arab Emirates and will be opening its first Australia location in mid-2011. Led by a world-class operating team, the company is undertaking a program of product innovation, customer engagement and service excellence.