One of South Africa’s most successful food and homeware brands Melissa’s has chosen Africa’s biggest food and beverage expo to share its 400-strong product range and offer franchise opportunities.

Africa’s Big Seven 2016 (AB7) runs from June 19 to 21 at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, South Africa.

“We did extensive online research of all South African trade shows applicable to our business in 2016,” explains Mark Tobin, Executive Sales Director at Melissa’s.

“We shared our final shortlist of three shows with some of our suppliers, competitors and industry contacts, asking their opinions about which show they thought would best suit our business. In the end we selected Africa’s Big Seven.”

Starting with a single store in the Cape Peninsula 20 years ago, Mark & Melissa van Hoogstraten’s has grown into a thriving cluster of 10 stores in the Cape and one in Johannesburg’s trendy Dainfern suburb. Melissa’s is investigating cross-border stores for 2017.

Tobin says Melissa’s aims to become Africa’s premium food and homeware brand and the easiest way to do this is by showcasing the brand and its top quality products at high profile trade shows.

Christine Davidson, Vice President of show organiser dmg ems Africa, agrees that AB7 offers unmatched access to Africa’s thriving growth markets: “A number of African countries are enjoying healthy economic growth and expanding middle-class populations with sizable disposable incomes and a taste for premium brands.

“AB7 provides a powerful and effective product showcase and business networking platform where manufacturers and producers can interact with suppliers, agents, buyers and customers from around the world, all in one place and time.”

Tobin is promising Melissa’s will bring something to interest everyone at this year’s show. He said: “We now offer around 400 products through our stores, with over 300 of these branded as Melissa’s The Food Shop products. We will be showcasing our entire food range to buyers at AB7, which includes biscuits, rusks and cereals, sweets, nuts and chocolates, dressings, vinegars and oils, hot and cold drinks, jams, preserves, honey, pasta sauces and condiments, rubs and seasonings, as well as savoury snacks.”

And he has a clear focus on the hotel and restaurant sector as well: “We will also show off our new range of dedicated hospitality food products created specifically for hotels, guest houses and gift shops which share the Melissa’s philosophy of quality. These include a tasty mix of berry and balsamic bon-bons, sugar-free lemon sherbet bonbons, humbugs, buttermilk rusks, buttermilk biscuits, fruit and nut biscotti and crunchies.”

Another key aim of Melissa’s participation at AB7 is to highlight its potential franchise and supplier opportunities for Melissa’s outlets throughout South Africa and the overseas markets. The Melissa’s business model includes dedicated suppliers of quality ingredients and exclusive products along with branded outlets.

“This provides many opportunities for selected entrepreneurs and small business owners to be a part of our business,” concludes Tobin.

“The Melissa’s phenomenon is an excellent example of small businesses thriving through sheer dedication and a commitment to quality,” concludes Davidson.

“Expect to see more great things from this amazing company and others at Africa’s Big 7 next month.”