07/09/2004 - 22:00

Special Report - New Norcia Bakeries willingly exploits its natural advantage

07/09/2004 - 22:00


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Established 11 years ago with the aim of producing quality sourdough, New Norcia Bakeries has come a long way. Julie-anne Sprague reports

Special Report - New Norcia Bakeries willingly exploits its natural advantage

Whether it’s a result of media hype covering everything from fad diets to obesity issues, or simply good old fashioned word of mouth, niche food producers are winning more of the food dollar.

Among these is New Norcia Bakeries, which has lost few customers to the Atkins anti-carb diet, even though other bakers claim to have been cut out of the food chain and have launched low-carb products to attack the trend.

But low-carb breads won’t feature among New Norcia Bakeries’ fare, according to co-owners Kingsley Sullivan and Mark Young. Since it was established in 1993 the business has more than tripled its annual turnover, now at $3.5 million, baking an average 12,000 loaves each week.

And it’s growth they say is going to continue.

Mr Sullivan said ‘artisan’ bakers were experiencing strong demand as a result of more people wanting to buy better quality products.

For its part, New Norcia Bakeries is enjoying the spoils of food education.

The more consumers who seek out information on diets and healthy lifestyles, the better it is for New Norcia Bakeries’ business, according to Messrs Sullivan and Young.

At the bakery’s Mount Hawthorn store front counter is a simple brochure outlining the breads they make and their ingredients.

The San Franciscan-style Sour-dough, for example, contains baker’s flour, salt, wholemeal culture, and water.

Mr Sullivan compares his recipes against that of commercial bakers, who can use up to 13 ingredients.

The future looks promising for New Norcia, which is expanding its east-coast distribution and growing the wholesaling side of the business with the burgeoning speciality food store sector.

“What we’re seeing is the foot-print of our distribution expanded out,” Mr Sullivan said.

“We started in the western suburbs and it’s moving out now. I think more people are educated about food.”

Wholesaling its bread represents about 40 per cent of New Norcia Bakeries’ turnover. And it’s a category that will continue to grow, according to Mr Sullivan.

“Michael Pember [Boatshed Markets] has taken on the Brighton Road markets in Scarborough and he is taking on our bread. As people like this grow and see the opportunities, so do we,” Mr Sullivan said.

Mr Young joined Mr Sullivan as a joint partner in 1996.

As a trained accountant he’s often responsible for turning bright ideas into commercial reality.

“We’ve grown in a controlled fashion. It’s easy to outgrow your own resources so we don’t want to grow excessively,” Mr Young said.

Since Mr Young joined the business its Mt Hawthorn retail shop has more than doubled in size and includes a cafe operation.

A new store was opened in Subiaco last year and its international export focus has been shifted to a more efficient interstate distribution business. 

Among the recent accomplishments are distribution deals through David Jones and Myer, and a new focus on attacking the gourmet store market.

New Norcia Bakeries retails its Nut Cake, Dom Salvado Pan Chocolatti, and Almond Biscotti to 10 retailers in Sydney and 15 in Melbourne.

Mr Sullivan said making quality sourdough was the principal reason behind the bakery’s establishment.

“We wanted to make sourdough without using commercial yeast and we’ve held to that for 11 years. The by-product is that it’s healthier for you,” he said.

They’re not into fads, they’re into good bread.

“We get asked for gluten-free bread but we don’t do it because we can’t make good bread without it.”


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