Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jamba: Big dollars won't be coming through a straw

The blenders will keep whirring, but Jamba Juice expects a still-in-test food menu to generate as much as one-fifth of the smoothie chain’s future sales.   

“I don’t think that 20% target for the overall mix longer term would be out of the question,” CEO James White told investors last week.   

His optimism is based on a six-unit test of food options like sandwiches, wraps and salads, which are now being rolled into 200 California stores for a more extended trial.   

White also cited research indicating that 27% of Jamba’s drink customers consume their smoothies with food, purchased currently from other sources.   

“They’d welcome high quality health foods offered at Jamba locations,” White said in a conference call with analysts. “In fact, when asked many of them have wondered what’s taken us so long.”   

Right now, the only Jamba product that can’t be sucked through a straw is the steel-cut oatmeal introduced earlier this year. “It actually beat any of our internal projections and gave us great confidence to move forward on the current plan,” White said.   

That new emphasis on food “transforms our business model and company” by drawing new customers and increasing sales from current fans, he contended.   

Meanwhile, the franchisor is continuing to pursue a licensing program that’ll soon put the Jamba name on a variety of retail products. One of the more unusual is a blender from Think Wow Toys that kids can use to churn up their own smoothies. 

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