our history

    OUR HISTORY

    Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses has always been and still is a family owned and operated business. We have a long & proud history dating back to the 1800's. Both the Ferguson & Plarre Families have early European roots and we established ourselves in Australia over 110 years ago.

    The Ferguson Plarre history commenced in 1901 in the Northern and Western suburbs and both families established themselves as household names in Melbourne.

    Both families continued trading through both World Wars and the Great Depression despite the tough conditions. After years of refining their 'craft' and significant contributions to the pastrycooking trade both families merged their businesses to become 'Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses' in 1980.

    The 4th generation Plarre family acquired the Ferguson family's interest in 2012. They actively own and manage the day to day running of the business from baking through to retail shop design, operations and bakery franchising. The family continue to embrace their forefather's commitment to quality products, service and innovation, including the use of only free-range chicken, hormone free beef, fresh cream (no mock!), real custard (no powder!) and a whole lot of love :-)

    Nowadays, Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses are just as famous for their desserts, birthday, wedding cakes, award-winning meat pies and Tiddly Oggies as they were when we started and with over 200 years of combined experience, you’d expect nothing less.  

    Our History

     

    A HISTORY IN THE BAKING (1857 TO NOW)

    Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses remains a family owned & operated business that is now in its 5th generation. Read on for some interesting tid-bits about how we came to be and a couple of interesting stories dating back as far as 1857.

     

     

    1857

    Eliza Jane Ferguson was born in Brandeston, Suffolk, England. It is Eliza who will go on to buy a restaurant in Swanston St, Melbourne, the pre-cursor for the Ferguson family bakeries.

    1880

    John Albert Ferguson (known as ‘Percy’) was born on August 7th. It is John who will go on to build & expand the Ferguson’s reputation for quality bakery products in Melbourne.

    1882

    Otto Plarre was born on November 16th at Hohenoelson, in Saxony, Eastern Germany. It is Otto who will go on to establish the Plarre’s reputation for quality bakery products in Melbourne.

    1900

    Otto Plarre begins travelling all over Europe, from Germany to England then to France working with pastrycooks for periods of a few months at a time, thereby gaining a great deal of theoretical and practical experience. His employers included The Anglo-Austrian Confectionary Company of London and George & Co. of Reading. He spent two years working closely with French & Viennese Pastrycooks, honing his patisserie skills.

    1901

    The September 1901 edition of the Carlton News carried a small front page advertisement which read “Mrs Ferguson, Pastrycook, Confectioner and Caterer, 231 Lygon Street (56 Swanston St, City) Wedding & Birthday Cakes”. The Ferguson’s bakery dream had begun!

    1909

    Otto Plarre migrates and pays ₤18 for his boat trip to Melbourne, Australia to start his own bakery business (good value for a 7-week voyage!)

    1911

    Just a few kilometres away from the Brunswick home and business of Percy Ferguson, Otto opened his first bakery at 26A Puckle St. Moonee Ponds. Like Percy, Otto Plarre’s motto was “Quality, Variety, and Good Service” – always emphasising the high quality. At this time, the trams were still running down Puckle St and there were vacant blocks and paddocks close at hand.

    1912

    “The Hot Cross Buns Episode”: Otto Plarre excelled at making Hot Cross Buns and became famous very quickly for his skill with this product. But his first attempt at supplying the Easter shoppers was disastrous! Otto had prepared a large batch of buns on Holy Thursday and they had sold exceedingly well. Expecting most sales the following day – Easter Friday – as was the case in Europe, Otto prepared an even bigger batch, only to learn that his new Australian customers did not shop on that day. He was left literally, holding the bag. Otto traditionally baked very rich hot cross buns. There was always as much fruit as flour and subsequently his Easter buns became very famous.

    1913

    Percy Ferguson moved into 519 Sydney Rd and established ‘J.A.Ferguson’, their bakery business. For the next seven years, like Otto, he would live above the shop with his wife Misa , building a business, raising a family, and dealing with the effects of a devastating world war.

    Their first son ‘Jack’ was born in December of this year. They would go on to have two other sons Alan and Bob who would also become involved in the family business. All were raised above the family cake shop and began work in the business at a very early age.

    1915

    Raymond Plarre, the son of Otto and his wife Liesl was born above their Puckle St store, delivered by a midwife at home. Ray would go on to build the Plarre reputation for quality products in the Melbourne bakery market.

    1918

    “The Hold Up”: The Fergusons delivered their goods from their Brunswick bakehouse to their stores by horse-drawn van. On one occasion the vehicle was ‘held up’ by bushrangers near Merri Creek and robbed of the Northcote shop’s takings.

    1920

    Through the 1920’s and 30’s, Percy catered for many Italian functions, and also catered for the very famous Florentino restaurant when they opened a cabaret operation.

    1921

    Percy Ferguson stopped his horse-drawn deliveries and purchased his first delivery truck, a T-Model Ford.

    1924

    Otto Plarre also stopped using his horse & buggy and purchased his first delivery trucks, an A-Model and T-Model Ford.

    1927

    The Ferguson’s cake shop was moved to a larger premises located at the prominent intersection of Sydney Rd and Bell St

    Coburg, where it remains today.

    1928

    “The Mr Tickle Episode”: Ray Plarre’s love of pastrycooking was so strong that it was starting to effect his schooling. On one occasion, Ray was caught designing cakes in class and paid the price for his artistry. Ray’s teacher Mr Tickle ordered him to touch his toes while repeating the phrase, “I must not draw cake designs during my arithmetic class”. At the same time Mr Tickle would cane Ray’s backside until he saw fit to stop. If he flinched, ‘Tickle’ would start the procedure all over again.

    1929

    The Great Depression devastated the world economy and challenged both the Ferguson & Plarre families. Through strong family support and their commitment to quality they both persevered through devastatingly tough times and continued to supply Melbourne with quality bakery products while in ‘survival mode’.

    1931

    Fergusons open a store at the Queen Victoria Market where it remains today.

    1935

    A terrible fire decimates the Ferguson’s bakehouse in Brunswick. It had to be completely rebuilt.

    1937

    After joining the Master Pastrycooks Association of Victoria in 1911 and serving as a committee member for 26 years, Percy was proudly elected President. He remained President until 1951 due to ill health. He also served as Vice-President of the Victorian Chamber of Catering Industries.

    1938

    A young Ray Plarre took second prize for both the Birthday Cakes and Novelty Sugar Work sections of the 1938 Pastrycooks Exhibitions Competition.

    1939

    The Best Decorated Birthday Cake title was won by Ray Plarre.

    The Pilot Championship cup of 1939 for the premier pastrycook was won by Percy Ferguson. Another major prizewinner was Jean Stauber of Paterson’s Cakes in Chapel St.

    The Ferguson & Plarre families were clearly at the top of their trades and becoming well acquainted with one another as they won prize after prize. Little did they know that their friendship would blossom into a business spanning two centuries. It would be up to their grand children to forge what is today known as Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses.

    1940

     

    On September 18th 1940, as President of the Master Pastrycooks Association (MPA), Percy Ferguson played a significant role in the opening of the famous William Angliss Trades School…a red letter day for the catering industry of Victoria.

    Once again the Ferguson & Plarre families would cross paths with Raymond Plarre spending 5 years setting and marking examination papers for the William Angliss School.

    Ray would later hold the position of President of the MPA himself after serving under Percy.

    1941

    Ray Plarre takes over full control of Plarre’s Cakes from his father Otto.

    1942

    On 8th March Ken Ferguson, the son of Jack and Jean was born. Ken went on to become the co-owner of Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses. Ken sold his interest in the business to the Plarres in 2012

    Fresh cream was being sent to war-torn Europe during WWII and was made illegal to use in Australia. Both the Fergusons & Plarres suffered seriously given the restrictions on ingredients used in their trade.

    1946

    1949

    On 18th August Ralph Plarre, the son of Ray and Eileen was born. Ralph will go on to help broker the famous amalgamation of the Plarre & Ferguson businesses into Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses, the company he remains a director of today.

    In August 1949, Bob Ferguson placed an advertisement in the local newspaper offering an “excellent opportunity for a female cake decorator”. Things weren’t quite as simple as just hiring a cake decorator though – bringing in female cake decorators spurred some major bakery renovations which saw (amongst other things) a special area being created for the decorators. Click here to read more about Family Business legend - Bob Ferguson

    1950

    Throughout the 1950’s, Plarre’s was building a glowing reputation for their cheesecakes and a very distinctive beef pie made with fried onions or bacon added to the beef for extra flavour. This product would go on to become the basis for their good old “Aussie Beef Pie”.

    1958

    Ken Ferguson joins the Ferguson family business and is apprenticed to his father Jack. Like Jack, Ken had an aptitude for retailing but continued to learn about all aspects of the business.

    1960

    Ray Plarre was an avid food technologist and consulted with industry heavy-weights to personally develop the emulsifier Mellofine which helped the baker produce a fluffier, most moist sponge. Ray patented the product and later sold it to a national company.

    1963

    In 1963 the Queen visited Australia to lead the Canberra jubilee celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of the naming of the capital. Plarre’s Cakes supplied the Queen and her entourage with their famous ‘Fancies’ (small fanciful cakes) when they visited Parliament in Melbourne. Plarre’s Cakes of Distinction were considered prestigious and a well-known business which is why they were contracted to supply Parliament and other grand events.

    1966

    In October 1966, the then “Plarre’s Cakes of Distinction” supplied rum truffles, green frogs and other ‘Fancies’ for the then current president of the USA, President Lyndon Johnson. They drove the cakes up to the Airforce 1 jet at Essendon airport in Eileen Plarre’s (Ralph Plarre’s mother) little green Prefect (car). This was televised to the nation. They showed a large crowd of people who had made a corridor to the plane and expected the president to be walking down it…but instead came Eileen’s little green Prefect. This was only after a member of the local police met Eileen at home to give her the official police escort to the Puckle St bakery in Moonee Ponds where the goods were picked up and then further police escort to Essendon Airport. They spoke of it with much humour.

    1966

    Plarre’s relocated to their current bakehouse at 340 Keilor Rd Niddrie & Ralph Plarre joins the family business full time.

    1969

    Plarre’s were producing more than 100,000 Hot Cross Buns during Easter for customers who had often travelled up to twenty miles and waited in a queue for an hour to buy them.

    1970

    Fergusons open their first shopping centre outlet at Northland.

    1975

    Ray Plarre retires on his 60th birthday and hands control of Plarre's Cakes to his son Ralph.

    1978

    Ferguson’s start buying in a range of continental products at which they were not specialists from Plarre’s. Similarly, Plarre’s were filling their own gaps and stocking their outlets with Ferguson’s meat pies and savoury products. What began as an experiment in trading soon developed into a relationship that would see the two companies eventually join forces, endure a merger, and propel itself with unprecedented growth into the 1980’s & 90’s as Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses.

    1979

    With the growth of specialist bread shops like Bakers Delight, the Ferguson’s & Plarre’s both decide to restrict their business to the products they know best…cakes & savouries.

    1980

    Due to the considerable success of trading experiments between the Ferguson’s & Plarre’s, talk of a partnership soon led to the idea of a true merger. With Plarre’s having recently opened their 6th outlet, a merger would result in 10 stores and an impressive marriage of knowledge and experience boasting over 200 years of combined expertise. Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses was officially born on June 6th, 1980.

    1983

    After settling into the merger and consolidating their operations, Ferguson Plarre started refining their product range by taking the best from both businesses and scrapping anything that wasn’t adding value to their customers experience.

    Ken Ferguson’s son Anthony joins the business as Retail Manager.

    1987

    Ferguson Plarre begins franchising, originally to family members who already worked in the business.

    Ralph Plarre's son Steven joins the business as Administration Manager.

    1988

    Ralph Plarre's other son Michael Plarre joins the business as Production Manager.

    1990

    “The Mudcake” explodes onto the scene and takes the lead as Ferguson Plarre’s most popular cake.

    1992

    Pam Ferguson joins the business as Promotions Manager.

    1994

    Ferguson Plarre renames its famous pasties “Tiddly Oggies” in keeping with their original title after Ken & Pam Ferguson return from Cornwall to research the origins of the pastie. Tiddly means “proper” and Oggie means “pastie”.

    1996

    Following in the footsteps of his forefathers, Ralph Plarre becomes President of The Baking Industry Association of Victoria to help build the baking industry.

    1998

    Continental Baked Cheesecake “Champion Prize Cheesecake” as judged at the 1998 Royal Melbourne Dairy Show.

    2001

    Our Mudcakes were awarded 1st place at the 2001 Victorian Baking Industry Show.

    Our Wholemeal Tiddly Oggies were awarded 1st place at the 2001 Great Aussie Pastie Competition.

    2003

    Chocolate Moussecake "Australia's Champion Dairy Dessert" as judged at the 2003 Australian Grand Dairy Awards.

    Strawberry Cheesecake "Best Unbaked Dessert" as judged at the 2003 Royal Melbourne Dairy Awards.

    Baked Continental Cheesecake as judged at the 2003 Royal Melbourne Dairy Awards.

    Blackforest Cheesecake as judged at the 2003 Royal Melbourne Dairy Awards.

    2004

    We opened our 30th store in Ballarat – This was actually a bit of a home coming for the Fergusons after Eliza Crawford (later to become Eliza Ferguson) first emigrated there in 1862!

    2004

    We had a huge medal hauls in the following competitions:

    • Royal Melbourne Dairy Awards.
    • Victorian Baking Industry Show.
    • Great Aussie Pastie Competition.
    • Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition.
    View more Awards

    2005

    We were lucky enough to win some more awards in the following competitions:

    • Royal Melbourne Dairy Awards.
    • Victorian Baking Industry Show.
    • Great Aussie Pastie Competition.
    • Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition.
    • The Great Australian Vanilla Slice Competition
    View more Awards

    2005

    We opened a new store in Bacchus Marsh.

    2006

    We opened new stores in both Wallan & Eltham.

    2006

    Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses launched a world first - An online "Designacake" service, which allows our customers to order cakes online & personalise them for friends, family or business for pickup from your local Ferguson Plarre store. 

    2007

    Opened 35th store in Pascoe Vale.

    Won a gold medal for their unbaked Strawberry Cheesecake and silver medals for their baked Continental Cherry Cheesecake and unbaked Blackforest Cheesecake at the 2007 Australian and Victorian Dairy Awards.

    Won the National Baking Competition 2007’s first prize for its lamingtons and apple pies.

    Launched Victoria’s first diesel/electric Hino Hybrid truck.

    Ferguson Plarre begins its first Environmental Offset Program with Greenfleet Australia to offset all direct carbon emissions from it's central baking facility (that cannot be eliminated through its abatement efforts). 7315 trees will be initially planted to start the "The Ferguson Plarre Forest”.

    Central baking facility moved from 340 Keilor Rd Niddrie to 35 Harrick Rd, Keilor Park on 14th September 2007.

    Ferguson Plarre wins the Champion Dairy Dessert at the 2007 Royal Melbourne Dairy Produce Awards for their Strawberry Cheesecake and a further 7 Gold Medals at the same competition.

    2008

    On 5th June Ferguson Plarre was nominated as one of only 4 finalists in Australia's most prestigious environmental awards, The Banksia Awards.

    On 3rd October Ferguson Plarre won the Best Green Business Award at the 2008 MyBusiness Awards in Sydney.

    Plants their 14,000th tree to offset tier 1 and tier 2 greenhouse gas emissions.

    On 13th November Ferguson Plarre's Original & Wholemeal pasties (Tiddly Oggies) won The Official Great Aussie Pastie Competition.

    Overall Cake & Pastry winner at the Victorian Baking Industry Awards.

    Baking Manufacturer of the Year winner at the Victorian Baking Industry Awards.

    Opens 40th store Caroline Springs.

    Co-Director Ken Ferguson celebrates his 50th year working for the family business.

    2009

    Opens 46th store in Lalor.

    Order cakes online & personalise cakes for your friends, family or business for pickup from your local Ferguson Plarre store. 

    Wins the 2009 Banksia SME Sustainability Award

    Wins the 2009 Origin Gold Banksia Award

    Plants their 22,000th tree to offset tier 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions

    Wins Gold Medals for Chocolate Truffle Cake, Baked Cheesecake, Blackforest Cheesecake and Chocolate Moussecake at the 2009 Melbourne Fine Food Awards

    Opens 47th store in Gisborne.

    Opens 48th store in Flemington.

    2010

    Inducted into the Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame

    Ralph Plarre is inducted into the Australian Society of Bakers Hall of Fame

    Chunky Angus Beef Pie is launched

    3rd Place in the National Hot Cross Bun competition (we won't be happy until we win 1st place! :-)

    The Ferguson Plarre Taste-Testers Club is launched

    Breakie pie, Bacon & Cheese Turnover and scones with fresh jam and cream added to the range

    Opens stores 49 and 50.

    2011

    Opens stores 51 (Brunswick) and 52 (Seymour).

    Celebrated our 110th Birthday in August! We continue our commitment to premium ingredients by sourcing certified free-range chicken, free-range eggs and hormone free beef from responsible farmers.

    Australia's first officially licensed Angry Birds cakes are launched!

    The Plarre family launch Puckles Family Bakehouse into Queensland and comes runners up in best new brand launch at the Australian Marketing Institute National Awards.

    2012

    The Plarre family purchase the Ferguson family's interest in Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses after a successful 32 year partnership.

    A new store is opened in Mernda, owned & operated by new franchisee locals Scott & Katherine.

    11 Medals won at The Official Great Aussie Pie Competition

    Decides to promote its ethical & sustainable ingredient sourcing philosophies more actively (free range chicken & eggs, hormone free beef)

    Red Velvet cakes are launched

    Our new store in Rosebud opens with a fresh new look and design to high acclaim!

    2013

    A new online store is launched, with a new look and design. Every single yummy treat is now available to order online at www.fergusonplarre.com.au

    New stores are opened at Officer

    2014

    Ferguson Plarre launches an Australian Retail Bakery first - Cakes Alive! Augmented Reality cakes. Simply download the Cakes Alive! app and point the phone at your cake and marvel as your cake come to life!

    New stores are opened at Chirnside, Craigieburn Central, Newcomb & Somerville

     

    …and that’s the story so far!

    We look forward to serving our valued and long-time customers for many more years to come. Thank you for taking an interest in our history.

    The Plarre family