Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses CEO Steve Plarre has again delivered an open letter to both the Managing Director of Coles and the CEO of Woolworths Limited pleading for them to join him and other bakers in keeping Easter special by not selling Hot Cross Buns until “Hot Cross Bun Day”, 6 weeks out from Easter Sunday.
Take a look at his letter below and be sure to comment your thoughts at the bottom.
Dear John Durkan and Brad Banducci,
Last year I wrote to both of your organizations asking that you consider not selling Hot Cross Buns unseasonably prematurely after Christmas. Both of you had someone in your organization kindly respond to my letter for which I’m grateful. Yet, it still disappoints me to think my young daughter & I will be walking the supermarket aisles after Christmas again this year only to see the likes of Hot Cross Buns already on sale.
You both suggested that you are simply providing to your customers what they want. To be clear, I don’t for a second want anyone to neglect their commitment to their customers but I would like to challenge the premise that your customers, on the whole, really want you to sell Hot Cross Buns so far out from Easter.
While Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses is not huge like you are, we were dishing up Hot Cross Buns to Aussies before either of you opened your doors. Over the last 114 years we have baked millions & millions of buns and never once had an angry Hot Cross Bun-craving customer demand them any earlier than 6 weeks out from Easter.
There will of course be some customers who would gladly eat Hot Cross Buns all year round but I truly hope you’re not relying on these customers to justify your notoriously early start to the bun season.
Like most Australians I grew up around Coles and Woollies and know how valuable your stores are to our communities. You never had buns on the shelves so early when I was a child. Easter and all of its wonderful celebration, regardless of religious leanings, seemed to occur with an intensity that now feels diluted as a result of it being so “promotionally stretched”.
Between Christmas and Easter we have the wonderful celebrations of Australia Day and Valentine’s Day to enjoy. Honestly, do you really think it would hurt to leave your bun selling until at least after Valentine’s Day? Commercially it makes zero difference to my family’s business and I know many others who agree, including the national baking associations of Australia and even Britain who I’ve personally spoken with about this issue.
And finally, on the raw issue of just pure commercial sales and profit, I still don’t get it. Are you really suggesting that customers who are in your shops from Boxing Day until closer to Easter will buy fewer items because they can’t get a Hot Cross Bun? You sell fruit buns. You sell fruit loaves. These customers will simply buy something else to satisfy their appetite like they do throughout the rest of the year. You may even find that by honoring the timing of Australian cultural celebrations they command greater excitement in your stores when you do finally put products on sale.
Ultimately though, this is just my opinion as a father and a baker but one that I believe is echoed by a very significant portion of the population and every non-supermarket bakery I know. If you remain unconvinced then maybe you could simply survey your Facebook fans. I see that between you you have over 1.6 million fans and it’s a simple enough process to run a non-biased poll.
Like you, I feel like I’m acting in the best interests of not only my customers but a lot of Aussie families out there. Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses will start selling Hot Cross Buns on the 15th of February 2016, exactly 6 weeks out from Easter Sunday. Internally we call this our “Hot Cross Bun Day”. We invite you to do the same.
I realise this is a tiny issue in the pantheon of problems you address daily, but with your combined clout you can make a genuine difference to making the Easter season more special, without disappointing customers or suppressing sales.
Please, please, please don’t dismiss this. We live in a magnificent country and it is all the better for our ability to keep special those things that we hold dear to our families and friends. I’d really appreciate a response at your earliest convenience.
p.s. I am told that ALDI doesn’t sell buns until February. Good on them.