22/10/2009 - 00:00

If it ain’t Mrs Mac’s ...

22/10/2009 - 00:00


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Iconic pie maker Mrs Mac’s is focused on further international expansion. Russell Quinn reports.

If it ain’t Mrs Mac’s ...
Rob West says WA accounts for about 35 per cent of Mrs Mac's business.

MRS Mac's is Western Australia's largest meat pie maker and the second largest in the nation behind Victoria's Patties Foods,the company responsible for Four 'N Twenty pies.

Fifty years in the trade, the family bakery has become a booming international business, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in turnover annually with big plans for future growth.

Scottish immigrant Ken Macgregor started his business, called Bakewell Pies, in Melbourne back in the late 1940s, but soon dreamed of crossing the Nullarbor.

He arrived in Perth in 1954 where he established the Bakewell Pies business locally, moving from the city to its current Morley administration and manufacturing headquarters in 1968.

After 20 years of involvement with his father's company, current managing director Iain Macgregor sought to improve the Bakewell product line, creating and rolling-out the Mrs Mac's range in 1988.

The success of the Mrs Mac's range also inspired a change in name for the business, although Bakewell branded products can still be found in supermarket freezers.

Retail outlets such as supermarkets currently account for 20 per cent of sales, primarily through Woolworths, which is now a key client of Mrs Mac's thanks to its partnership with Caltex petrol stations. Convenience outlets including delicatessens and petrol stations such as Caltex Woolworths are the main distribution channels, representing 65 per cent of sales.

Interestingly, the company strategically walked away from a potentially lucrative national offer from Coles Express stores to stock generically branded products instead of its Mrs Mac's brand.

Food services (including sporting fixtures and hotels) and school canteens make up the remaining sales outlets, with five and 10 per cent respectively.

An iconic brand in WA, especially for pie-loving footy fans, Mrs Mac's became the official name of the business in 2004, a few years before Mrs Mac's general manager sales and marketing, Rob West, joined the operation.

Mr West, who has held senior marketing and sales positions with major food and beverage brands including Coca-Cola Amatil, Mars, MasterFoods and McDonald's, says it was the interstate success experienced during the late 1980s, due to the quick uptake of the Mrs Mac's range, that really drove the business to new heights.

“WA now accounts for about 33-35 per cent of our business, which is still significant for a WA-based national organisation, as compared to others organisations where maybe 10 per cent of their business remains in WA," Mr West told Gusto.

“But now 65 per cent of our business is based on the east coast and New Zealand."

Distribution to NZ began in 1998, Hong Kong in 2006 and most recently to Singapore, resulting in sustained growth for the company, with staff numbers eclipsing 450 to keep up with demand.

“We produce in excess of 2 million pies a week, or 408,000 pies a day," Mr West says.

“So we go through about 20 tonnes of meat and about 23 tonnes of flour per day."

In order to produce what Mr West calls "a fair few pies", the company has invested significantly in key infrastructure, including pie and sausage roll lines, freezers and cooking facilities during the past three years at a cost of $20 million.

More important than the infrastructure are the Mrs Mac's staff, who are treated like family, with a number of multi-generational employees with the business for more than 30 years.

“We've got quite a lot of people who have quite a length of tenure and that helps the culture of the place," Mr West says.

“The culture of the organisation, that Iain continues from what his father created, is very much the backbone of how we do business and the family style and environment and demeanour and culture is driven by that family attitude."


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