Meetings last weekend between the new majority owner of Heidi’s Frogen Yozurt and the chain’s franchisees apparently eased management problems that had drawn complaints from store owners.
C.E. Prichard, whose Johnston Foods of Los Alamitos is acquiring 45% of Heidi’s, met with franchisees at separate sessions in Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego, several principals said.
Franchisees’ problems with Heidi’s have centered on founder Heidi Miller’s management style and alleged representations to franchise owners.
But Prichard, who is sole owner of Johnston, convinced irate store owners that he will bring in “the right management team,” said Vince LoFranco, owner of six franchises in San Clara County. “They have the business experience. They have the facilities to produce the product that we want.”
Johnston manufactures Johnston brand yogurts. “They’re get-the-job-done people . . . (who) can legitimately turn this company around within weeks,” he said.
Skip Villerot, owner of two Heidi’s stores in Orange County and one in San Diego and president of the Assn. of Heidi’s Franchisees, said Prichard’s management team “is very professional and very conscious of the problems between the franchisor (Heidi’s) and the franchisees, (so) I feel that the franchisees have a better than equal chance of surviving now.”