In its 40th birthday year, Bakers Delight is still trading strongly despite having to navigate its way through one of the most challenging years in its history.
As many businesses were forced to close their doors (some for good) during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bakers Delight was fortunately considered an essential business and allowed to continue trading. It turned out to be an inspired decision, as customers began seeking out alternatives to supermarkets where supply was limited and long queues became the norm.
“Every day we’re reminded of how lucky we are to be living in Australia and to be in the business that we’re in. We’ve experienced change, disruption and stress, but nowhere near the scale of many other businesses,” said Joint CEO David Christie. “We personally have been able to cope well due to the amazing team of franchisees and staff we have.”
After 40 years in business, Bakers Delight has already experienced many economic highs and lows and has traded strongly throughout. During the early 90s recession, the business grew significantly and this latest crisis was no exception.
Both David and fellow Joint CEO, Elise Gillespie noticed a clear shift towards ‘shopping local’ during the height of the pandemic, along with a higher demand for simple comfort food. In fact over the last three months, sales grew by around 10%, mostly driven by the sandwich bread range.
“We saw a lot of people wanting to support local businesses like butchers, bakers and green grocers, rather than visiting the major centres which in turn, saw our bakeries on strip locations and small neighbourhood centres perform very well,” said Elise.
However while sales have been strong, the need to adapt the current (and future) business model has become more urgent and as a result, a number of digital options are now being implemented. Partnering with delivery platforms like Uber Eats, exploring click and collect options and e-commerce functionality were all identified as being an important part of Bakers Delight’s future and have been accelerated as part of the pandemic recovery plan.
“Online sales already represent a larger portion of our sales today than it did in February and we will be launching our digital loyalty programme later this year, along with an integrated online ordering platform.”
“We are still a bricks and mortar business though,” adds David. “With 99% of our sales being generated by people walking into our bakeries, we need to ensure their experience continues to be a delightful one. An integrated digital loyalty program that enables consumers to order online and pick up in bakery is important for our future success, but it will only be successful if the foundation of delivering delight in the bakery is achieved day in, day out.”
When it comes to the future, both David and Elise agree that those businesses with a combination of a healthy balance sheet, a strong brands and working culture, adaptable teams and the ability to solve problems will be the ones to enjoy sustained success.
“Australians have enjoyed a greater sense of community during lockdown and have rediscovered the benefits of shopping at their local baker, butcher and son on,” said Elise.
“We believe many of the core principles of a great customer experience that we have practiced for 40 years will remain important – delightful service, delightful product and delightful environment. For now though, it will need to be achieved in a socially distanced way.”