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.

Otto Plarre & J.A “Percy” Ferguson

1857 - 1882

Eliza, Albert Ferguson & Otto Plarre were born

1887 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.

The Anglo-Austrian Confectionary Company of London and George & Co. of Reading.

1900

Otto Plarre begins to travel all over Europe

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.

Plarre Advertisement

1909 – 1911

Otto Plarre migrates & opens his first bakery

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!). In 1911 (just a few kilometres away from the Brunswick home and business of Percy Ferguson).

1911 Otto Plarre opened his first bakery, Plarre's Cakes, 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.

Plarre Bakehouse 1920s

1912

The Hot Cross Buns Episode

“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.

Otto & Leisl Plarre with Frieda, Ray & Valda 1928

1915-1918

Raymond Plarre born

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.

T-Model Ford delivery truck

1920-1927

Introduction of the delivery trucks

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.

Interior of Plarre’s Cake Shop

1928-1935

The Mr Tickle Episode

1928 “The Mr Tickle Episode”: Ray Plarre’s love of pastry cooking 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.

Percy Ferguson with his wife Artemisa

1937-1939

President of the Master Pastrycooks Association of Victoria

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.

Staff at Ferguson Plarre

1941-1949

Ray Plarre takes control

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 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.

1949 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.

Puckle Street Store 1960

1950-1960

Building a reputation

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.

Coburb Store 1960

1966-1975

'Fancies' for the president of the USA

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.

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.

Ferguson Plarre born 1980

1978-1980

Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse officially born

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.

Michael Plarre

1983-1992

Ferguson Plarre begins franchising

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.

Ralph Plarre President of The Baking Industry Association of Victoria

1996-2004

Ralph Plarre becomes President

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.

Steve Plarre

2004-2005

Award winners

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!

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.

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 our awards

2005 We opened a new store in Bacchus Marsh.

Ralph Plarre

2006-2007

Going green

2006 We opened new stores in both Wallan & Eltham. 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.

Steve Plarre Tree Planting

2008-2009

Plants 14,000th tree

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.

Ferguson Plarre 110th birthday

2010-2012

Celebrating 110th birthday!

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 premium Victorian 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 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 (premium Victorian 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!

Ferguson Plarre sausage rolls

2013-2015

New online store launched

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. 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

The Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse website is officially ranked at the #1 website for celebration cakes on Google!

2015 Australia’s first Hot Cross Bun rally held on the steps of the Victorian State Library. Ferguson Plarre publicly calls for common sense from the supermarkets who sell Hot Cross Buns on Boxing Day. The Not Cross Bun is introduced to help bring attention to this matter.

Ralph Plarre flies to East Timor with Tom O’Toole from the Beechworth Bakery to help set up a new bakery and teach some local nuns how to bake!

Ferguson Plarre’s flagship store in Chadstone re-opens after having traded for 26 consecutive years in the same location to huge excitement and acclaim. Our new look respects our European roots and customers are extremely happy with the new look and feel.

Ferguson Plarre launches Nutella Donuts and shortly thereafter, the Nutella Donut craze is born and goes ballistic!

First Prize in both decorated cake categories at the Victorian Baking Show. The Easter-themed Novelty Cake and Chocolate Decorated Mud topped over 300 total entries from over 50 bakeries from across Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

Victoria's Best Sausage Roll - Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses was officially awarded Victoria’s Best Sausage Roll at the Baking Association of Victoria, 2015 Victorian Baking Show held over the weekend.

Celebrating 115 years

2016-2017

Celebrating 115 years

2016 We celebrate our 115th birthday with a “win a birthday cake for the rest of your life” competition! Maria-Louise wins a Birthday cake every year for the rest of her life.

Launch our authentic, hand-made Jumbo Tiddly Oggies featuring Beef Madras, Lamb Souvlaki, Chicken & Chorizo, Steak & Potato and Spinach & Sweetcorn flavours for a limited time only

Wins Gold in Australia’s Best Pastie competition

Launched an amazing new range of Drip Cakes to huge acclaim. Christmas Drip cakes featured layers of green and gold cake which were so popular our bakers couldn’t keep up and they sold out!

Ralph Plarre is inducted into the City of Melbourne Hall of Fame Awards for his services to the Melbourne business community.

Gold Medal at Australia's Best Pasty Competition. We won gold for our Original Tiddly Oggie.

Judge John Humphrey said that our "traditional pasty ticked all the boxes. It had the right balance of meat & vegetables. The veggies were tender, the seasoning well balanced and the flavour was excellent”

We also won medals for our Lamb Souvlaki, Beef Madras, Wholemeal Vegetarian, Chicken & Chorizo, Steak & Potato and Spinach & Sweetcorn Tiddly Oggies

2017 Ralph Plarre relaunched our original Puckle St store in Moonee Ponds after being refurbished after 106 continually trading years in Puckle St!

Ferguson Plarre wins Chadstone’s Food Retailer of the Year Award!

Our exciting new gourmet range of donuts launches to huge fanfare including flavours like Ferrero Rocher

Ferguson Plarre returns to Highpoint Shopping Centre opening in the Fresh Food Hall just before Easter

We celebrate the opening of our 66th bakehouse at Stud Park Shopping Centre!

The Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse website continues to be the #1 website for celebration cakes on Google!

Gold Medal at the Baking Association of Australia’s ‘2017 Australia’s Best Hot Cross Bun’ competition for our Fruit Hot Cross Buns

This is a nationwide competition, held every year with 100’s of Australian bakeries entering the competition to win the title of Australia’s Best Hot Cross Bun and whilst we weren’t the overall winner we did come highly commended by the panel of judges who praised us for our high fruit content, aroma and great looks and awarded us with a Gold Medal.

Gold Medal for “Best Pastie in Australia”.

This is a nationwide competition, held every year with 100’s of Australian bakeries entering the Baking Association of Australia’s annual baking competition to win the title of Australia’s Best Pastie.

This is the second time we have won a Gold medal for our Original Tiddly Oggie in the past 12 months!

The judges praised our Original Tiddly Oggie for it’s delicious filling and aroma along with our quality pastry and awarded us with a Gold Medal.