Welcome to another edition of Fast Five - our fortnightly series where we ask Victoria’s most influential and exciting business leaders five simple questions to unveil the challenges, successes, and behind-the-scenes operations of Australia’s leading institutions.
‘Adapting to massive change at speed can only happen in an organisation where there is trust…’
This week, we had the pleasure of speaking to Joint CEO of Bakers Delight, David Christie, on trading through the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting to meet great spikes in demand, navigating constantly changing regulations and restrictions, and the importance of relationships and trust within a business and the broader community when faced with challenging times.
David shares his insights on how, more than 40 years on, the organisation continues to successfully evolve its product range and brand to ‘maintain relevance and keep delighting new generations of customers,’ and Bakers Delight’s generosity and amazing work in giving back to the community.
#1: After more than 40 years of operation, Bakers Delight remains one of Australia’s most iconic and loved brands. What has kept the organisation so successful for all these years?
We’ve kept our business relatively simple and have remained committed to real bread, real people and real delight. That sounds easy, but focusing on improving your core business can be a real challenge. We’ve also been lucky to have a network of great franchisees who are passionate about the brand and their local communities.
#2: What have been some of the biggest challenges faced by Bakers Delight during the COVID-19 pandemic and how has the organisation overcome these obstacles?
We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve been able to trade throughout the pandemic in Australia as an essential service, but like all businesses we’ve had to adjust the way we do business. The biggest challenge has been navigating the constantly changing regulations and restrictions in different states and making sure we were keeping staff and customers safe. We’ve also had to adjust to big spikes in demand, particularly in the early days of the pandemic in 2020. Having a committed team of staff and franchisees and a very resilient, local supply chain has allowed us to move quickly and get ahead of the curve.
#3: What has been a key learning for the organisation as a result of the pandemic?
The importance of relationships and trust. Adapting to massive change at speed can only happen in an organisation where there is trust between the team, franchisees, suppliers, customers and the broader community.
#4: Has Bakers Delight changed aspects of its business model or innovated to adapt to the ever-changing business landscape?
We’re always evolving our product range and the look and feel of our stores to maintain relevance and keep delighting new generations of customers. We’ve also launched a number of digital initiatives during the pandemic, most notably our new digital loyalty program (Dough Getters), which already has more than 300,000 members. Convenience for customers has become more important than ever, both in store and online.
#5: Bakers Delight is well known for giving back to the community, what are you most proud of?
We’re constantly amazed by the great work that our franchisees do in their own communities. Whenever there is a crisis or a need, our franchisees find a way to help. We are particularly proud of our relationship with Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA). Our network has raised more than $20 million over the past 20 years, including a record $3 million (over two campaigns) during the past year. We also share office space with them, so they feel like family.