Remixed bakery franchise Ferguson Plarre set to rise

Fifth-generation family bakery Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses has posted its strongest growth in five years, after a buyout and overhaul of operations.

But the 100-year-old bakery and cafe chain would have collapsed if not for a strategic overhaul.

After three years of flat sales, Ferguson Plarre has undertaken its first interstate expansion into Queensland, opening four new stores, with another six due to open in Victoria before Christmas.

Gross sales hit $22.5 million for the 12 months to June 30, 2013 – up 13 per cent.

It is the best growth the bakehouse has seen in five years, and has paved the way for expansion into NSW in 2014.

But bread is a tough and increasingly crowded market to crack.

Established franchise Bakers Delight, which claims about 12 per cent of the nation’s bread market with 600-odd outlets, grew revenue a meagre 2 per cent to $575 million, in fiscal 2013.

“The bread industry is extremely competitive,” said Bakers Delight general manager marketing Kendra Teasdale.

Despite this, newish Ferguson Plarre chief executive Steve Plarre is confident he can differentiate, having guided the group through a tumultuous succession plan.

Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses evolved out of a partnership between two of Melbourne’s oldest bakehouses run by the Ferguson and Plarre families. Mr Plarre, a fifth-generation operator, took the reins in 2012 amid poor growth and diminishing brand ­awareness.

Story originally posted on BRW.