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How Sorbet has built a leading brand in ten years

Ian Fuhr launched Sorbet with no experience in beauty, and yet today his brand is synonymous with the industry. Here’s why he believes the business has been such a success. 

Nadine Todd, 07 January 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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Success doesn’t happen overnight. Today Sorbet receives 40 franchise applications per week, store-on-store growth for 2015 was 16% despite a tight economy, and the group’s growth was 35% thanks to new stores opening throughout the country. But it wasn’t always like that.

For the first four years, Sorbet struggled with employee turnover, customer growth and selling franchises. So how did the business break into the market to become the largest name in beauty treatments in South Africa?

Related: Customer satisfaction guaranteed

Here’s founder Ian Fuhr’s take on what a brand should focus on to achieve high-impact growth.


Institutional wisdom can help or hinder you. If you want to keep growing and beat your competitors, find ways to look at your industry with fresh eyes, and question everything.

1. Look at everything with fresh eyes

Sorbet -Founder -Ian -Fuhr

“When I enter a new industry, I try to look at it with fresh eyes,” Fuhr says.

“I approach things with a fresh perspective, like my approach to Sorbet via a retail model. Established industries and businesses rely on institutional wisdom – some things are just known and accepted. If you look at every situation with fresh eyes, you might find a new, better way of doing something, which will in turn lead to growth.”

2. Don’t lose sight of your competition

There’s a delicate balance between differentiating yourself and not becoming a ‘me too’ brand.

You want to be aware of what your competitors are doing, but you don’t ever want to mimic them, or adjust your strategy simply because they have. You need a strong business reason for every decision you make.

“Never become so arrogant that you don’t pay attention to your competitors,” warns Fuhr. “Learn and improve continuously, and don’t take anything for granted, but make sure all decisions add meaningfully to the business.”

3. Build a credible, respected brand, and success will follow

In 2011, Clicks approached Sorbet to join its Affinity Club Card partnership. This meant Sorbet was promoted to Clicks’ four-million strong data-base, and that Club Card members earned double points at Sorbet. Next, they wanted to develop a Sorbet product range with Fuhr.

Related: Sorbet hits the UK

“There’s a tipping point of growth. If you get the foundations right and build credibility within the brand, you’ll gain momentum and growth will skyrocket. Other brands and partners will come to you.”


Plan for growth in everything you do – from evaluating competitors, to making daily decisions with staff and customers that entrench a transparent and ethical brand that others will follow and support.

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Nadine Todd

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