BAKERS GALLERY SEES ITS BUSINESS RISING
You can have your cake and eat it – as Bakers Gallery, a Black-youth-owned bakery which is one of the newcomers to the DubeTradePort and one of the first tenants within the Special Economic Zone’s mini factory complex, has proved.
The business, which begun in a garage only four years ago, has grown to the point where it now supplies supermarkets and restaurants with a variety of cakes and pastries. It also specializes in high-end celebratory cakes.
It is through diversifying at a time when many businesses in the hospitality industry were contemplating shutting down, that Bakers Gallery has made a name for itself as a producer of mass-market cakes and pastries.
Moving into the mass market cake line was a Covid-19 survival plan when specialty celebratory cake orders halted.
“In 2020, we had our first break into the retail sector with a contract to supply cake loaves, cake slices, cake rings, cupcakes, biscuits, tarts and pastries to a Spar store. Within eight months, we were supplying 10 Durban-based Spar supermarkets and we needed to expand to bigger, better premises,” says founder Skhumbuzo Maphanga, who is an executive pastry chef with international experience.
Dube TradePort’s Mini Factories were ideal.
“We were looking for security, a constant supply of power even during load shedding, ease of access
and parking for our clients, and a well-kept environment that provides a good image,” he explains.
Skhumbuzo started Bakers Gallery in 2013 as a side-line hobby supplying a home industry shop in Morningside to supplement his salary as a pastry chef at the Durban ICC.
By 2018, his cake baking had grown to such an extent that he was working round the clock and he had to make a choice between his full time job of building a business. The latter won.
Following in his older brother’s footsteps, Siphesihle Maphanga also trained as a chef and was drawn into the business. Being the creative in the family, his forte is the intricate decoration and painting of the celebratory cakes.
Another partner in the business is Ntobeko Ndlovu, a qualified educator and a medical scientist who has brought his strategic thinking and business management skills to Bakers Gallery, changing it from a hobby into a business.
“He saw the potential in this business and gave up teaching temporarily and jumped in with an aim of changing the ‘side-line hobby’ into a formal business. He brought in proper processes, book keeping and financial management which were crucial in us raising funding from one of the big five financial institutions,” says Skhumbuzo.
His entrepreneurial talents also say him attract private investors into the business.
But it has been hard work getting the business to where it is today – and Ntobeko had to park his business skills whilst he was also doubling up as the company driver during the early days.
He is now steering the process towards achieving Municipal Certification of Acceptability which is crucial to building a business of this sort.
In the longer term, the team’s goal is to achieve Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Global GAP compliance.
With a business plan backed by detailed research and documented growth plus growing demand for its products, the trio has big plans for the future. These include supplying retail distribution centres and using online shopping platforms, like Takealot, to market their cookie line.
“The evidence is there. In a space of eight months, we were selling into 10 Spar stores. This tells us that the demand for our product is very high. If we are to meet our goals of supplying our products nationally, we will need to run two to three shifts a day to achieve the volumes required. We also
anticipate that, by also selling cookies in bulk online, we will be well positioned to grow exponentially,” says Skumbuzo.
Bakers Gallery is also looking to collaborate with caterers supplying cakes, cookies and desserts. Recently, they supplied 1200 desserts for a Midlands wedding. They have also supplied the likes of the Durban ICC and the Balmoral Hotel with desserts for big functions.
They have also started short baking courses and plan to open a training facility for people who have a passion for baking and the art of cake making. They have already opened this to disadvantaged youth.
“It will be a great way to teach people how to bake and empower themselves by means of selling,” Skumbuzo points out.
In addition to the three executives, Bakers Gallery employs four other people – three bakers who started as dishwashers and were trained to bake from scratch.