Rising demand for fruit baskets, CBD fuel national chain’s Maine expansion plans

Edible Arrangements, an Atlanta-based company that sells fruit arrangements, plans to add three franchises in Maine including one in Bangor within six months, a company executive said Wednesday.

The company, which has more than 1,000 U.S. locations, is also considering future stores in Portland and Lewiston in addition to the current ones in South Portland and Brunswick, Patricia Perry, the company’s vice president of franchise development, said.

It is targeting the Northeast and New England for expansion because it has few stores in the region and because research indicates there is demand for its products there, Perry said, citing record-breaking sales last year nationally and well-performing stores in the state.

The company is working with real estate agents to find a location in Bangor with curbside and delivery service. A previous Edible Arrangements franchise opened for a brief time near the Bangor Mall in 2016, but Perry said she is not sure why it closed. She expects new stores to have between five and 10 employees.

“We’re also looking for a franchisee who lives in the community and is very connected to it, someone who has ties and wants to provide jobs,” she said.

Perry said the company over the past few years has shifted from selling expensive fruit bouquets to companies or for special occasions to selling lower priced items to individuals, including shakes, smaller sized fruit containers and snacks like brownies. It also started selling flowers.

In a separate business called Incredible Edibles, the company is slowly rolling out CBD-infused foods and drinks. CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is one of the active ingredients found in cannabis plants. While Incredible Edibles will initially focus on adding a few stores in Connecticut this year, Perry expects it to open stores in Maine in 2022.

Perry said a franchisee must invest $170,000 to $400,000 to get a store up and running, depending on whether they build a new site or move into an existing location. Average stores that are open for three years have an average unit volume of $570,000, and sales were up $153,000 on average from 2019 to 2020, she said.

Some of the changes over the past year are pandemic-related. Perry said customers who don’t want to shop in grocery stores for fresh fruit have been ordering from Edible Arrangements. A $29.99 mixed fruit box has been a popular item and the company sources fruits from regional suppliers. Another change is how the stores look. Those building from the ground up can use a new plan that includes large front windows.

“A lot of customers aren’t coming into the stores now,” she said. “But they want to see the arrangements being made.”

Also in the plan is drive thru windows for locations that have enough access room for them. Drive thru quick-service restaurants like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ have seen sales rise 26 percent as diners opt for contactless service during the pandemic.

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