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• • • FRANCHISE NEWS STORY • • •

Date: 6/29/2009
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International Franchise Concept, Oil & Vinegar Takes Aim at United States Development

International Franchise Concept Takes Aim at United States Development
Oil & Vinegar Positions itself to Capture Untapped Market; Provides Upscale Taste with Attractive Gifting

SEATTLE — (Month, XX, XXXX) Despite the rocky economic climate and financial crisis within America, a successful international concept with more than 75 units globally has targeted the United States for a concentrated growth initiative.

Oil & Vinegar, an interactive upscale culinary specialty shop packed with international flair, flavor and passion, has positioned itself to captivate American taste-buds, as the concept has successfully maintained five locations on the East and West Coast, as well as the Midwest, and is now poised to bubble out in surrounding markets as well as other targeted cities where the brand is yet to be discovered.

“For the past 10 years, Oil & Vinegar has focused on becoming a global brand name synonymous with international premium taste and experience, with the majority of the store development occurring in Europe. Today the brand is relatively unknown in the US marketplace.  Our vision is to make Oil & Vinegar a household name, providing  food enthusiasts in our local markets the opportunity to experience our unique international concept,” said Matt Stermer, CEO of the American-arm, who is responsible for expanding the chain here in the USA.

Prior to opening Oil & Vinegar’s U.S. headquarters in the Seattle, Stermer held a top-level job with Nike. Upon experiencing the brand in Holland, where the Oregon-native worked at Nike’s international office, Stermer instantly knew this was a concept that would plant him back in the States and thrive. Stermer left Nike with a longing to fulfill his entrepreneurial drive and decided to bring the Mediterranean flair back home to the Pacific Northwest with him. 

Stermer, along with seasoned restaurateur Debbie Gokhan, COO and owner of the Chicago location/training facility, are streamlining the American growth.

“Americans have many options for experiencing upscale food thanks to the flooded restaurant marketplace, but finding equally premium oils, vinegars, spices and other specialty flavors to use at home is not the easiest of tasks,” said Gokhan, who joined Oil & Vinegar in the early stages of expansion to the USA, and fell in love with the concept while working as GM of Hard Rock Café Amsterdam.  “With our concept, you don’t have to be a great chef to make great food. We show off our passion for taste as your tour-guide of pairings, spicing, and flavorings to ensure a great meal or a great gift.”

In addition to supporting the everyday foodies’ craving to become top-chef, Oil & Vinegar’s U.S. concept has captured the culinary gift-giving segment. Immediately upon walking into a location, guests feel as if they have been teleported internationally. Guests can create their own gifts or meal flavorings with the “on-tap” oils and vinegars, along with mustards, sauces, pestos, tapenades, olives, marinated vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, honeys, fig spreads, fondue chocolates, dried herb mixes, sea salts, spices and a variety of flavored pastas.

“We are introducing our American customers to a new type of gifting, the up-scale culinary experience,” Stermer said. “Our stores hit each of our customer’s senses. It’s an experience unmatched by words. When giving the gift of flavor, their friends and family are instantly provided with a similar experience, yet in their home.  Through the gift, we now have a new customer coming in to see the store with a new-found desire to share that experience with someone else.”

Oil & Vinegar’s expansion plan will act much like a bubble, Stermer said. Through franchising, the brand is positioned in Washington, Illinois, Virginia, Texas and Montana serving as the initial hubs for the concept’s growth.  The dispersed footprint of locations provides a nationwide brand platform, but the strategy is to build brand awareness in the local markets that will allow our stores to gain immediate following. Despite the challenging economic climate, for 2009 Stermer plans to add two more franchise locations, and another eight franchised locations in 2010, which will primarily be placed in upscale mall properties.

“We are looking for hungry entrepreneurs who have great charisma and the desire to turn-on their community to an international experience,” Stermer said, noting that the near term focus will be on, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Washington, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington state, Illinois and Florida for growth.  “We have positioned Oil & Vinegar to capture an untapped, unique segment and now we are ready for development.  Given the personal service and guest relationship aspects of our concept, we believe the franchise model is the best way to spark our passion for taste into communities across America. Our ignition won’t wait on the economy, either. If anything, we feel now is the best time to open new stores and position our brand for the future.  We are charging forward with our growth plans.”   

ABOUT OIL & VINEGAR
Oil & Vinegar is an interactive upscale culinary specialty shop packed with international flair, flavor and passion. It brings together a wide range of international food and cooking products from the four corners of the globe in alluring, Mediterranean-style surroundings.  Oil & Vinegar was founded in the Netherlands in 1999. The World Headquarters is located in the city of Oosterhout, in the Netherlands. By 2002, the company had expanded the concept internationally to the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium and later entered the US, South Africa, and Australian markets.  In the US market today, there are Oil & Vinegar stores in Skokie,  IL, Bellevue, WA, The Woodlands TX, Charlottesville VA, and Missoula MT.  Further USA expansion will occur through franchising in various states beginning in 2009. For more information, visit www.oilandvinegarfranchise.com.

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