Ian Fuhr. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Ian Fuhr. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Franchised beauty salon chain Sorbet will not be affected by the sudden departure of its founder Ian Fuhr.

Fuhr, a serial entrepreneur who founded Sorbet after selling his SuperMart (now called JetMart) clothing chain to Edcon in 2002, has not been part of the day-to-day running of the group for over a year, said Long4Life CEO Brian Joffe. Investment firm Long4Life bought Sorbet, which now comprises 207 stores, in May 2017.

Joffe said he did not foresee any disruption to its operations as Sorbet’s CEO Rudi Rudolph has been in charge for the past few years.

Fuhr said that after 15 years with the business it was time for him to move on. He did not want to go into too many details about what he wanted to do next, saying only that he was not planning to retire and “wanted to start something small to keep myself busy”.

News of Fuhr’s departure came days after the announcement that Sorbet UK was closing its outlets. In a notice on its website, it said a “tough trading and operating environment” played a part in closing its five stores in that country.

Fuhr said Sorbet UK had licensed its branding from the SA operation but other than this agreement, it was not connected to the chain in this country. “I and few other individuals were shareholders in it, but Long4Life was not.”

Despite the failure of the UK chain, Sorbet SA is not closed to the idea of expanding abroad. “We are confident that sometime in the future we will take the Sorbet feeling to other parts of the world.” 

Though the UK stores struggled, its SA operation is growing in strength. “Sorbet SA is in the best financial shape it has ever been since inception and continues with exceptional growth together with its franchisee community and citizens,” it said.

Joffe said as Long4Life was in a closed period, he could not give details on Sorbet’s performance but did say that although it is a very small part of its overall business, it is performing very well.