After 37 years, 704 franchises and operations in four international markets, joint-CEOs and founders of Bakers Delight – Roger and Lesley Gillespie – have announced they have stepped down from the top job.
Formally handing over the reins to daughter Elise and husband David Christie, Roger Gillespie says the international retail chain is set for a new energy, whilst keeping customer-centricity and family at its heart.
“We are, and have always been a family business, so it makes sense to continue this tradition for future generations,” says Roger.
“As with any business, there comes a time when it is right for new leadership. Both Lesley and I are so proud of what we have achieved over the 37 years, and now we are ready to pass the baton to Elise and David.”
When asked about the challenges and opportunities in taking over the business from its founders, both Elise and David say the company’s future is bright in Australia and globally.
“Elise and I have been actively involved in the Bakers Delight business for the past decade and what more could you want than to take over a business with an engaged, loyal customer base?” says David.
“We have aggressive plans to grow the business, with the Gillespie Family vision for 2030 to grow store numbers to 800 in Australia, 400 in Canada and a further 150 across other markets including New Zealand.
In our new role as joint-CEOs we have the challenge of continuing our award winning service and quality products, whilst driving change and reclaiming our position as Australia’s market leader in the bread and baked goods category.”
Whilst the overall bread market in Australia is growing, there is building pressure for the duo to drive the business forward through innovation amid competition from supermarkets, a trend towards eating less gluten and a challenging franchise market in Australia.
“Whilst we have about 15% share of the bread market in Australia, we know that we need to be constantly demonstrating product and service innovation to stay ahead of the pack,” says Elise.
The food retail market is increasingly competitive and shoppers have more choice than ever. This is not only happening when they are out shopping but from within their homes via their mobile devices. Our challenge is not just about making better bread but finding new ways to delight our customers so we become a brand they all love to engage with on a regular basis,” she added.
“Our brand is really strong, so whilst taking over from two great entrepreneurs like my parents is daunting, the exciting opportunity for us is how we evolve the brand so it stays relevant for current and future customers, and to ensure continuity of great returns for our franchisees.”
In a business built around family, it is little surprise that Roger and Lesley are not completely hanging up their aprons. Both will remain on the Bakers Delight board as Founding Directors, with Roger also Chairman of the board. Both will be casting a watchful and proud eye over the leadership of their successors.
“Family is hugely important,” says Roger. “We are a family run business that supports a network of smaller family businesses – our franchisees. I think the continuity of ownership has been well-received by our franchisees, particularly those with a long history in the business.”
In addition to David and Elise, Roger and Lesley’s son Aaron Gillespie will continue to oversee the Canadian operations as President of Cobs Bread and a member of the board.
About Bakers Delight
Bakers Delight was first opened in 1980 by Roger and Lesley Gillespie in Hawthorn, Melbourne, with their friend Gary Stephenson.
They chose the name because they believed that every loaf, every roll, every pizza and bun should be a delight to bake, a delight to eat and the service you receive is delightful.
Now Bakers Delight can be found in more than 700 locations across Australia, Canada, USA and New Zealand. That’s a lot of bread being baked fresh and delivered to a lot of happy customers.