The Cheesecake Shop solar

The Cheesecake Shop franchisees powering up profits in a green initiative 

Sarah Stowe

How could The Cheesecake Shop franchisees Les and Karen Farrington boost their profits and do something for the environment?

Quite simply, it turned out. The solution was solar energy.

The couple investigated solar panel installation for their Gawler, South Australia, outlet.

“We’re not greenies, but we like to do what we can, and getting solar was easy to do. It’s reduced expenditure in the shop and that turns into profit.”

The shop is half of one building so the Farrington’s have access to 50 per cent of the flat roof space.

“We asked for a price based on the maximum output for the space we had. We had 36 panels installed.”

The Cheesecake Shop is a retail business that helps families, workplaces and communities celebrate life’s events with in-store baked cakes. So it’s crucial to ensure the power is available to manage temperature control and fire up the ovens.

The Farrington’s system is generating 13.3kwz, and contributes a substantial flow of electricity to the business during the day. It switches back to the grid for the evening and early morning to maintain cool rooms and refrigerated items, and the alarm system.

“On good days we generate 5kw a day, that’s a fair bit of power,” says Les.

The Gawler store oven-bakes two to three days a week, and the solar energy covers most of that.

Greening the business while saving costs

“The system cost $11700, and we paid outright. We are making savings on average of $128 a week. It will only take 18 months in total to pay off the installation cost,” reveals Les.

The cost savings are increasingly valuable as rising prices are starting to bite – cost of goods, wages and electricity are all going up.

Les and Karen reported back to The Cheesecake Shop head office the results of the installation after 12 months.

“We shared our savings so far and that we’re extremely pleased with the results. We’ve got another six months before we start generating savings.”

Les says the installation was seamless with minimal disruption inside the shop. The inverter (the brain of the system) feeds the electricity into the system, sits high up on a wall in the shop.

“We’ve got a 10-year warranty on the inverter and panels. We don’t expect to have too many dramas.”

The couple chose highly recommended systems and panels because they wanted assurances the equipment would be high standard. 

“We had good reports on the products and the company,” says Les.

The Cheesecake Shop is encouraging solar panel installation

The Farrington’s experience is being replicated across the country as more franchisees in The Cheesecake Shop chain switch to solar.

It’s a real bonus for the businesses, says Ken Rosebery, managing director at The Cheesecake Shop.

“We care about lowering our franchisees’ costs, improving their profitability and of course it helps with our environment. We have installed solar at 20 locations now and aim to have solar in more than 100 stores within five years.”

Nick Avgerinos, general manager – franchise development, explains how The Cheesecake Shop is driving its solar initiative.

When a store comes up for a lease renewal the franchisor negotiates with landlords to obtain financial assistance for solar installation.

“Our average result would be a 50 per cent contribution from the landlord, typically in the form of a rent free period,” he says.

“The franchisees assist by getting the quote for the solar though as we have installed more and more sites our database of quotes has helped franchisees with that process. Most of our Victorian installations received government grants through the Solar for Business program.”

The Cheesecake Shop solar initiative is helping to swell the ranks of businesses powered by renewable energy.

Nick says “Generations of Australians have grown up enjoying a The Cheesecake Shop cake on their birthday. As the leading Australian specialty cake retailer, its important to us to play our part in keeping the planet in great shape for the next generation to enjoy.

“We aim to achieve that by leading the Australian franchising industry with our solar power rollout.”