Bakers Delight plots to turn apprentices into franchisees

Bakers Delight is hoping to grow its franchise network by way of apprenticeships, after announcing it will offer 1,000 new apprenticeships in 2013, described as a “solid” opportunity.


Roger Gillespie, co-founder and chief executive of the nationwide bakery chain, told Inside Retail the company is keen to offer 1,000 new apprenticeships this year.


According to Gillespie, a baking apprenticeship represents a “solid” opportunity for anyone who “may be uncertain of their career prospects”, referring to young people in particular.


“Many of our qualified apprentices also have aspirations to become a manager or a franchisee. In fact, 30% of our franchisees began their career as an apprentice baker,” Gillespie said.


According to Gabby Kelly, group development manager at Bakers Delight, bakers are on the National Skills Needs List, so it makes sense to offer so many apprenticeships.


Rather than compete with the mining industry, Kelly says Bakers Delight is attempting to position itself as a career path to come back to.


“With mining being so strong, a lot of bakers may go and do a stint in the mining for a period of time and then return to become franchisees,” Kelly told StartupSmart.


Kelly says the company is hoping to take on apprentices nationwide, particularly as the profile of apprentices has changed.


“Fifteen to 20 years ago, the average apprentice was a young school leaver. We’ve seen a massive increase in female apprentices, and a massive increase in young adults going for apprenticeships as well,” she says.


“It does mean early starts but the advantage of that is it does mean early finishes. With the demand for work-life balance, apprentices can finish up mid morning, go home and spend time with family and friends, and pursue other interests outside work.”


An apprenticeship generally takes three to four years to complete, Kelly says, although apprentices can qualify sooner if they demonstrate the appropriate skill level and ability.


“An apprenticeship is a fantastic career path… [It offers opportunities in] product management, bakery management and, further down the track, franchising could well be a possibility,” she says.


“The thought of being a business owner is probably a fair way off into the future [for some apprentices] but we do get people with a very clear plan of what they want to achieve in a certain period of time.


“Business management or franchising is part of that dream they have.”


While the company encourages apprentices to become franchisees, it also welcomes franchisees who haven’t completed an apprenticeship.


“We feel it’s important to have a healthy stream of external talent coming in through the franchise recruitment program,” she says.


“They do have that fresh view, and that keeps the network strong.”


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