Ciao Bellain Your Grocer's Dairy Case

How friendly media attention helped a Little Italy gelato shop move from being a restaurant supplier to a premium supermarket brand

Ciao Bella was once content to produce generic desserts. The maker of premium gelato and sorbet sold its wares mostly in bulk to restaurants that served them as unbranded "home-made" ice cream. Retail was just 10% of the company's business in 2000 and the least profitable part. The last thing Ciao Bella wanted to deal with was the logistics of shipping pints of frozen ice cream to far-flung stores. "We fought the growth of retail," says Deborah Holt, the company's vice-president for marketing.

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