Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses hits the sweet spot with their franchisees – From Herald Sun

Bakery Ferguson Plarre scores top reviews from its franchisees

Claire Heaney, Herald Sun – October 24, 2018 10:30pm

BAKEHOUSE Ferguson Plarre has evolved from two family-owned bakeries into a successful franchise operation with 75 outlets.

But chief executive officer Steve Plarre says it hasn’t been an overnight success for the third-generation business, founded more than 100 years ago.

“Seventy five stores over 115 years is slow growth but we have gone from 55 to 75 in five years,” he said.

Mr Plarre said while some franchise systems have gone from boom to bust, the business has focused on clear values with the aim of handing the operations on to the fourth generation.

He said they have hit a sweet spot between rock star pastry chefs and supermarket offerings.

Mr Plarre and brother, Michael, took over from father Ralph, in the past couple of years. Started in Melbourne’s north, the two bakeries run by the Ferguson and Plarre families started sharing kitchen space when the Ferguson family outgrew its space.

By 1980 the businesses had merged and in 2012 the Plarres bought out the Fergusons, keeping the name.

Mr Plarre said the franchise, which retained its third place overall in this year’s Topfranchise Award, ranked highly for marketing, branding and expansion. The awards, managed by 10 Thousand Feet, are based on anonymous feedback from franchisees who give feedback across six areas.

Michael and Steve Plarre are the third generation running Ferguson Plarre.

“We say we are a business based on family values and not shareholder values,” he said. “We want to leave the business gold plated, ready for our nieces and nephews.”

He said they sought to be the best rather than the biggest bakery.

Mr Plarre said feedback from franchisees was important in shaping the brand’s future. Head office worked hard to provide support to franchisees and the business was always looking at innovation to bring down prices for some goods without taking away from the quality, he said.

A trip to Europe has inspired the business to roll out a new range of doughnuts including a pop-up store in Frankston’s Bayside shopping centre. “We think doughnuts still have about five to 10 years to go,” Mr Plarre said.

He said they had brought back new cake cutting tools and new cookie cakes, enabling letter-shaped cakes, were a big hit.

“We might be 115 years old but we are always kicking around new ideas,” he said.

For more information on starting your own business with Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses click here