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All about Grom, Italian gelato chain now in Hong Kong

WHY DID YOU OPEN A BRANCH OF GROM IN HONG KONG? Federico Grom: “We came here for the first time in 2009 with the dream of opening in Hong Kong. It’s a city we love, and we think it’s a perfect first window for this part of Asia. We dreamed of opening a store in the IFC. We are a little picky, Guido and I, we look for the best location, the best mall, the best partner. In this case, we found the best partner, Bite Limited, and a great location. From this first store, there will be many others, not only in Hong Kong but also in China and other countries.”

HOW MANY OUTLETS DO YOU HAVE NOW? Guido Martinetti: “We have about 80. The biggest number is in Italy. We have some in the United States, Japan, Indonesia, Dubai, Paris.”

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YOU STARTED GROM TO MAKE GELATO “THE WAY IT USED TO BE MADE”. WHAT WAS WRONG WITH GELATO BACK THEN, IN 2003? Grom: “That wasn’t my opinion, it was the opinion of Carlo Petrini, president of the Slow Food organisation. We read this article – he was saying too many gelateria were using chemicals, aromas, colourants, preservatives. So we thought why not make a better gelato, using the best raw materials and managing the agriculture, having a relationship with the farmers? We started from scratch, using the best ingredients and we don’t use any additives. The gelato is made like it was once upon a time, in Italy, which is the most competitive area for gelato. The innovation was going back to the 1950s, going back to the techniques of our grandmas and grandpas. Unfortunately, there are many things we are forgetting.”

DO YOU USE ONLY ORGANIC INGREDIENTS? Grom: “We can’t say all the ingredients are organic. Sometimes the farmers don’t have enough money to buy the certification. They have the best fruit, but they’re not big enough to be officially organic. On our farm, Mura Mura, in Piedmont, we have the best variety from the taste point of view. It’s not the shape of the fruit, not the image or the colour – just the taste.”

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Martinetti: “Sometimes customers think organic equals quality but it’s not always so.”

HAVE THINGS CHANGED SINCE UNILEVER BOUGHT GROM LAST YEAR? Grom: “Absolutely not, no change at all. I was thinking I’d work less after the acquisition but I’m working more – but with passion. If you’re passionate about something, you work with pleasure. I think they trust us, and so we still have the same job and responsibility as before. Unilever is a great organisation with great people. If you’re clever and you buy a diamond – and Grom was a considerable diamond in the world of ice creams – you don’t buy the diamond and then step outside the store and destroy it. You try to protect it, invest in it, improve the quality of it.”

WHAT DO YOU TWO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME? Martinetti: “I love to practise three activities. The first is sport; swimming and running. The second is reading, to become a better manager. The third is kissing girls. Just those three, that’s it.”

Grom: “Guido is very lucky, especially for the third activity. But I’m even luckier because a few months ago I had a baby with my wife. I’m a young father and I’m enjoying spending time with my baby, Romeo. And for the rest, I like what Guido does – doing sport and staying fit.”