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A family affair: Genesis Crafty set to grow throughout the UK

By Anna Bonar+


"We are a truly modern bakery but with artisan values where bakers still flip every pancake and chaff every scone by hand," say the McErlain brothers.

Genesis Crafty, a Northern Irish bakery business owned by six brothers, is set to grow by 25% over the next year, according to its CEO Brian McErlain.

The company, set up in 1986 by the McErlain brothers’ parents, claimed to be a "truly modern bakery but with artisan values where bakers still flip every pancake and chaff every scone by hand".

Last financial year (beginning 1 November 2012) the company’s retail sales were estimated at around £20m - a figure it expects to rise by 20% to reach £24m this year, before reaching 25% next year. 

The company employs over 220 staff with products stocked in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado throughout the UK. The brothers are now hoping to start cooperation with additional UK retailers.

It’s unlikely that we will overpower big brands [in the UK bakery market], but we may grow to be one,” said Brian.

Its product range includes bread, pancakes (big, blueberry, chocolate chip) scones (sultana, mini sultana and cheese), farls, rolls and cakes.

Its expansion was mostly concentrated on the number of retailers the company provides their products to but constant development was always the aim, according to McErlain. “We are always working on developing new products, either by looking at new trends in terms of ingredients or simply just bringing new twists to everyday favorites.”

He also added that they could never rule out expanding beyond the UK as 20% of the company was already based in the Republic of Ireland. 

Family force? 

Our parents started this business when they had four children under seven and our mother was pregnant with the fifth. As it was a home bakery, the home and bakery were adjacent with a connecting door – we all worked and learned the craft of baking as soon as we were tall enough to reach the baking tables,” Brian McErlain explained.

Each McErlain brother looks after a distinct aspect of the family business. Brian McErlain is its managing director, Adrian its despatch manager, John new product development (NPD) director, Paul new business development, Seamus bakery manager and Damian operations manager.

However the company said it was important to note support from outside of the family. “One of the strengths of the business is that we already have a management structure in place whereby many professional managers get to use their skills in a way that complements those of the brothers,” Brian McErlain said.

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