The Rise and Rise of Bakers Delight

The Rise and Rise of Bakers Delight | The Cultivator Spring 2018

From a suburban Melbourne bakery opened in 1980 by Roger and Lesley Gillespie to more than 700 stores across four countries, Bakers Delight is one of Australia’s great business success stories.

With more than 10,000 people directly employed in Bakers Delight franchises throughout Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, the Gillespies continue to lead the team as Board Directors, while the next generation run day-to-day operations.

“Our family is so proud of the global growth of Bakers Delight whilst maintaining our core belief in our brand, people and product – to delight with every loaf and interaction with customers,” said Elise Gillespie, joint CEO of Bakers Delight Australia and New Zealand with her husband David Christie, alongside Aaron Gillespie as President of the COBS Bread North America arm.

Sharing their commitment to family business is the family-owned Manildra Group, the preferred supplier of ingredients including flour, bakery mixes, canola oil and sugar used to make Bakers Delight sweet and savoury goods.

Manildra Group Managing Director John Honan said in addition to supplying the 100 per cent Australian-grown and made ingredients, Manildra Group also collaborated with the family and team at Bakers Delight to introduce Australia’s first bread low in FODMAP carbohydrates.

Reflecting the shift towards healthier options and artisan breads in Australia over almost 40 years of the company’s history, the Bakers Delight LowFOD™ loaf is made with the world’s first flour to lower the amount of FODMAP carbohydrates, which can cause abdominal bloating and digestive discomfort associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

“We were delighted to launch Australia’s first FODMAP Friendly-certified loaf, which is freshly made in our bakeries every day,” said Mr Christie.

“We knew people would seek to become better educated about gluten-free and start shopping for bread based on the facts coming out of well-regarded research by Monash University.

“We saw this as a big opportunity to partner with Manildra to be first to market – and our customers’ response has been fantastic. “Bread is an important staple to many people and the customer feedback on our LowFOD range has been very positive. Some customers have told us it has changed their lives, as they can finally enjoy eating bread again without discomfort.”

When expanding overseas in 2003, Ms Gillespie said the company settled on Canada because the food culture was similar.

“We were unable to use the Bakers Delight name as it had already been trademarked there, so we rebranded as COBS – which means many things and one of them is Canada’s Own Bread Stores,” said Ms Gillespie.

“We’ve learned a lot from our time in Canada, and while the major baking processes are the same, the product mix has some differences.

“Canadians eat less white bread than Aussies, and they love grainy breads and sweets. We tried to introduce them to Cheesymite scrolls but that hasn’t quite caught on, yet!”

Ms Gillespie said Bakers Delight customers expected quality and consistency “and so do we – it is so important in our business”.

“Which is why we respect the values the Honan family have instilled in Manildra Group and when we work together, we achieve great results.

“Our Hi Fibre and LowFOD ranges have both come from working closely with Manildra, delivering value to customers, franchisees and both of our own family businesses.”

Mr Honan said Manildra Group also shared joint commitments with Bakers Delight as part of their community programs – such as their partnerships with Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA).

Bakers Delight has raised more than $20 million in the company’s 20-year association with BCNA. “And we appreciate the joint support of many of our suppliers for BCNA over this time,” said Mr Christie.

Meanwhile, Bakers Delight remains focused on “finding new ways to delight our customers and deliver value to franchisees”.

“Put simply, we’ll continue to start every day with the desire to be better than the day before,” said Mr Christie.