Bakery goods aren’t the first things that come to mind when businesses talk about exporting, but with South East Asian markets so close, Goolwa Bakery owner Ben Hage found himself asking why he couldn’t send products to Singapore and other close locations.
The 105-year-old bakery had been a Goolwa institution for holiday-makers, and Ben, whose parents bought the bakery 11 years ago before he took it over four years later, started to think about how to maximise patronage when the summer peak subsided.
With seven bakers working over summer to meet the demands of holidaying families queueing outside his door, trade would fall off and he would only need two bakers over the winter months.
With a bit of planning, he opened up three additional locations – at Hayborough, Seaford and McLaren Vale – keeping his seven bakers in jobs and new shop fronts to sell the products he could bake.
Now starting to look further afield, Ben decided to take part in the Business SA Export Ready Program
, which gave him time to re-evaluate his business model and start planning for further expansion.
“The business is that old but things like business planning and proper structure that people assume that we have, we don’t get time to do all that,” Ben says.
“Taking a day out a month to talk to other businesses has been beneficial, we get to talk to them about their problems and work out ours.”
Ben knew he would have to scale up production again to be able to meet future export demands, so he bought two new ovens to replace his 48-year-old “old girl”. The new ovens run on less power, are more efficient and take a short amount of time to heat up compared to his old oven, which had to be left on for 22 hours every day. These only run for five hours a day.
His next step is to sell bakery products interstate to increase demand and finesse his services, before looking at exporting to Singapore.
“It’s a friendly country in a similar time zone and not too far away,” he says.
“We’re looking forward to exploring that and this is what the process has been with Business SA. If we’ve got an extra 300,000 units per year, what are my resources, what ovens do we need, and what process do we need to get this done. We’re scaling it that way so that when we do sell, the production will be ready.”
The Export Ready Program has helped Ben with create a business plan and marketing plan, as well as connections through Austrade.
“The course has been really well, we enjoyed it and (convenors) Patrick and Nicola were helpful. The people they brought in were experts in their field and a had a passion for what they did.
“A lot of us aren’t ready and the ERP is a good feeder program.”
to find out more about our Export Ready Program.