Cinnabon CEO offers insights on the challenges of remote operations

Feb. 11, 2014

Cinnabon CEO and president Kat Cole has published a blog post on LinkedIn about how the brand was one of the few chosen to operate in Sochi, Russia, prior to the start of the Winter Olympics.

Excerpts from the post — available in full here — include:

"We've gotten many questions asking, 'How?!!' 'Have you looked at Sochi on a map? It's kind of ... out there!' ... First, you have to know a little bit about Cinnabon as part of FOCUS Brands. As a conglomerate of six brands doing business in 60 countries (Cinnabon is in 54), we have an incredibly talented international team and strong franchise partners. They develop and build brands overseas, cultivate meaningful relationships globally and in their local communities, and build the infrastructure, supply chain, and support to enable aggressive global expansion.

"Second, you should know that Cinnabon opened over 100 new franchise locations in Russia in just over three years. Considering that expansion, it's not totally shocking that Cinnabon is open in Sochi."

Cole included FOCUS Brands' president Mike Shattuck's keys to success when considering international markets, including:

  • Strong master franchise that can assure available supply.
  • Sub-franchise operator who knows the market well.
  • A focus on the "opening, starting early and clearing obstacles such as general contractor selection and procurement. Since this is a fast-growing franchise group, equipment, supplies and building materials were in the market ready for deployment."

Cole said this isn't the first time Cinnabon has experienced international expansion obstacles. The brand opened in Libya in July 2012, about the same time the Libyan government was overthrown.

"The franchise partners there stayed committed and were the first to bring an American franchise to Libya. Nothing like a national revolt to test your will. It's now one of the highest-volume Cinnabon locations in the world," she wrote.

Cole concludes with, "There's a lesson here for all professionals tasked with overseeing remote operations. The key to success is having the right business partners who know their markets and invest in being prepared for growth. You can have a great concept, but if you don't have committed local partners, you'll never take advantage of unique growth opportunities."

Read more about franchising and growth.

Topics: Equipment & Supplies , Franchising & Growth , International , Operations Management

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