Friday, May 6, 2011
"An American making NY bagels in Ireland and shipping them by the container to France, the bread capital of the world... now I’ve seen it all!"
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
Sunday, April 24, 2011
The Sunday Times
Rosie Sheehan admits she never had any desire to be her own boss. But when the native New Yorker landed in Dungarvan, Co Waterford in 2000, she didn't have much choice. "There weren't too many jobs round here at the time," she said. Instead Sheehan, who is aged 44, opened a coffee shop. It tanked. Just one year after opening the venture into which she and her Irish husband Des sank their life savings (Euro 40,000) she was left with an empty unit and an emptier bank account.
She had come to Ireland because her sister had married a Waterford man and moved there, "and I missed her". When she got here, what she missed most about New York were the bagels. "I just couldn't get them here so when I opened the coffee shop we specialised in bagels, and while the business wasn't a success, the bagels were," said Sheehan. "When the coffee shop closed, we had no means of survival but we still had our bagel machine."
She began bringing samples to cafes and restaurants in Dublin and Broadway Bagels was born, with Sheehan delivering herself from her car boot. By 2004, when she launched a frozen bagel range, she appointed a specialist distributor with frozen transport. Launching what is now her core product was hard. "Supermarket buyers were reluctant at first, because there was no product category for frozen bagels," she said. "In any case, as a small company with only two products at the time, we needed a distributor to get supermarket listings."
It was a decision she was to rue years later. In the meantime however, sales were rising like freshly baked bread, thanks in no small part to a star turn on TV. "RTE asked us to do a programme called The Mentor, a forerunner of Dragons Den, with people like Jay Bourke giving advice to young businesses." Such was the reaction to her appearance that stocks sold out the following week and buyers' initial reservations dissipated. The mentoring was helpful too. "One of the things suggested was that I move my office out of the house, which proved my saving grace for me. I had a problem switching off, was always checking emails and working 24/7 and I would have burnt out," she recalled.
By 2006 the business had started exporting to the UK. Indeed bagels had become so popular that rival brands were proliferating. "By 2007 we had to relaunch as Rosie's Broadway Bagels, because there were too many New York sounding names around and we wanted to differentiate ourselves," she said. She developed new varieties, including cinnamon and raisin for the sweet toothed and plain lunchbox sized ones for kids. In recent years she has broadened out the product range out further still, leveraging the brand's American heritage to create new snack food products including bagel based pizza and, more recently, cookie dough.
In 2009 however, the firm hit an almighty speed bump. "It was our annus horribilis. Our distributor was sold and the new owner, which deals in very big brands, did a category review of all its brands and delisted a number, including ourselves." Having worked so hard to build up her trade it was, she said, "soul destroying". It also wiped out 40% of her turnover. Only from this distance can she see it as 'a blessing in disguise'. "The fact is that although we were selling to all the big supermarket, I had never met a buyer. When you deal with distributors, you never do. When the distributor delisted us I had to go out and start meeting them, pitching to them and developing relationships with them." It was hard work, but over the following months she was one by one relisted by all the supermarkets she had lost.
"It was incredibly hard. Supermarket orders tend to be self generated from sales history but in some cases our delisting had wiped out our sales history. Luckily I had loads of letters and emails I could show them from their customers wondering where my bagels had gone." These days she outsources delivery to a third party and the savings she makes from no longer having a distributor's margin she spends on marketing and promotions.
Turnover has recovered to in excess of Euro 500,000 and the business is "highly profitable", she said. It currently produces 40, 000 to 50,000 bagels a week, a figure on track to 'grow dramatically' this year on the back of a new emphasis on exports. "Last year we started selling to Italy, France and Spain. In particular, we've been working closely with Bord Bia to win a number of contracts in France, to the point that we already sell more bagels into the French market than we do to food service in Ireland, so it's very substantial," she said.
Despite her success, it's only relatively recently that Sheehan, who has 14 employees, has begun to feel like an entrepreneur. "It has grown on me, but what I really want to be is a writer," she laughed. She also wishes she had a little more business nous starting out. "I remember someone asking whether or not I had done a feasibility study, and I had no idea what that was," she said. "To be honest, I think I could have saved myself a lot of heartache along the way if I'd been a little better equipped businesswise. Then again, if I knew more at the time I probably would never have done it." There is one thing she would do differently however. "I would never put all my eggs in one (distributor's) basket again."
Monday, December 13, 2010
"These awards acknowledge the important role small businesses have to play in leading our return to economic growth and job creation", Awards Patron, An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, TD.
The short-list of finalists in the "SFA National Small Business Awards 2011", has been officially announced by Ian Martin, SFA Chairman and Chair of the Awards Judging Panel. The aim of the awards is to celebrate the achievements of small business in Ireland, and to recognise the vital contribution of the small business sector to Irish industry.
"With the greatest number of applications to date in the seven years of this awards programme it is heartening to see that the small business sector has a strong sense of optimism and so many companies are positively focused on the growth of their business proving that successful small businesses will be vital to our economic recovery", commented Ian Martin, SFA Chairman and Chair of the Awards Judging Panel. "As well as our six categories of awards this year we also feature five of the best Emerging New Businesses (less than 2 years established) and I must say that given the quantity and quality of the businesses represented in this section this year, entrepreneurship is alive and well in Ireland", stated Mr. Martin.
Broadway Bagels are shortlisted in the Manufacturing Award Catagory (up to 50 employees).
Saturday, October 9, 2010
A Waterford bagel baker run by a husband and wife team and a Dublin architecture and design practice were both today celebrating big contract wins abroad.
Waterford Food Company, Rosie's Broadway Bagels today announced that it has expanded its exports into Europe and is now serving customers across four European countries.
Earlier this year, the Company announced its first shipment of 10,000 Bagels into Spain through American Food importer, 'Taste of America' and supermarket distributor 'Frico-dan' which supplies the 'Dinosol' chain. Following this initial success, Rosie's Broadway Bagels is now distributing an additional 23,000 Bagels through French distributor 'Forezia' and directly to food outlets 'Cristalli de Zucchero' in Italy and 'Blakemore' in the United Kingdom.
Based in Dungarvan, Waterford, Rosie's Broadway Bagels was established in 2002 by husband and wife entrepreneurs Des and Rosie Sheehan.
"We are delighted that our Bagel products are the subject of continued interest amongst distributors and food outlets in Europe. Domestically it's a considerable challenge to secure competitive shelf space amongst Irish retailers so the continued interest from the European mainland comes as a welcome boost," said Rosie Sheehan.
Meanwhile, Dublin-based HKR Architects said that it has recently won a number of international contracts.
This is the result of a successful strategy of geographic diversification and refocusing HKR's business on large-scale international architecture and design projects. HKR has been awarded contracts to design a new airport in the Middle East and a large resort in Slovenia.
HKR is re-structuring its UK business, expanding its London office but will close its regional office in Manchester.
"We are pleased to announce a number of new international project wins which reflect our focus on increased geographic diversity. These project wins also reflect the unique design skill-set we have developed across our practice over many years. Consistent with our focus on large-scale international projects, we are expanding our London office to support the needs of our growing international client base. We have, however, also taken the decision to close our regional office in Manchester and will serve our UK and international client base from our expanded London office," said Jerry Ryan, HKR Architects CEO.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Sunday Business Post
By James Enright
Last week the company announced it was expanding by exporting to Spain. "There was a big market in the States for frozen, pre-sliced bagels. We figured we could transfer that to Ireland and supply major retail chains," said Sheehan. After months of tweaking and wasting "skips of dough", the Sheehans finally concocted a satisfactory recipe. They rely on the healthiest of ingredients sourced in Ireland, and omit preservatives and additives.
"We try to increase consumer awareness of healthy eating. A frozen bagel is so much healthier than a 21 day shelf life bagel loaded with preservatives. It is an ongoing education process," said Sheehan.
With a target market of discerning foodies and health conscious parents, the company has 14 employees, including a full time quality assurance officer. Working at full capacity, the plant can produce 25,000 bagels a day.
The last year has proved challenging as the company lost its distributor, which forced its bagels off the shelves of major supermarkets. "In that period, we had hundreds of e-mails asking where our bagels had gone and demanding that they return," Sheehan said. She had to renegotiate a deal with retailers to get her product back onto the shelf. Broadway Bagels' stock has risen considerably since then. The first shipment of 10,000 bagels will be distributed in Spain through American food importer, Taste of America and supermarket distributor Fricodan, which supplies the Dinosol chain.
"We are very grateful to An Bórd Bia for seeking new opportunities and clients for us. The export market has huge potential. We wish to develop our product further and break into new markets," said Sheehan.
As a co-founder of the Dungarvan Junior Special Olympics committee, the movement holds a special place in Sheehan's heart. The company donated 30,000 bagels to the athletes, coaches and volunteers taking part in this year's Special Olympic Games held in Limerick. The company is now turning its attentions to building up a strong brand and diversifying its products.
"We hope to produce brown, multiseed and gluten-free bagels in the future. We are constantly looking to expand our retail listing," Sheehan said.
"Our advantage is the taste. European bagels are more lumpy and doughy, ours are lighter. We are keen to continue developing and exporting our products."
Friday, May 21, 2010
Waterford Food Company donates 30,000 bagels to the Games
Waterford Food Company, Rosie's Broadway Bagels today announced that as a proud supporter of the Special Olympic Ireland Summer Games it will be donating a whopping 30,000 bagels to the athletes, coaches and volunteers taking part in this year's Games.
The 2010 Special Olympics Ireland Games will take place in Limerick from 9-13th June. This will be one of the biggest and most exciting sporting events of the summer with 1,900 athletes competing in 13 sports in venues throughout Limerick and Clare. They will be accompanied by a team of 650 coaches and official delegates, 4,000 family members and supported by a team of 3,000 volunteers.
Based in Dungarvan, Waterford, Rosie's Broadway Bagels which was established in 2002 by husband and wife entrepreneurs Des and Rosie Sheehan have a long association with Special Olympics Ireland and play a leading role in the development of the Games in Waterford.
Commenting on the donation, Rosie Sheehan, Broadway Bagels said, 'We are honored to support the Special Olympics Ireland Summer Games. In our own small way we hope to bring a little extra joy and nourishment to the thousands of people who will be having fun and taking part in the Games this June.'
Ciara Tallon, Fundraising and Sponsorship Manager for Special Olympics Ireland added, 'We are delighted that Rosie's Broadway Bagels have come on board to support us for the 2010 Special Olympics Ireland Games. We are looking forward to working with Rosie and her team to make sure these games in Limerick is the best ever.'
Rosie's Broadway Bagels are made with all natural ingredients and are available in supermarket freezers across Superquinn, Tesco, SuperValu and Spar stores as well as other independent outlets.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Ireland's only dedicated kosher bagel bakery, Rosie's Broadway Bagels, has teamed up with the country's third-largest plant baker, Pat the Baker, to dual-brand three existing varieties.
Rosie's founders, Rosie and Des Sheenan said they had been looking to formulate a deal with a plant bakery in order to extend the distribution of their products as a fresh rather than frozen option. There are also plans to introduce a third daily production shift at the bagel factory.
The three dual-branded varieties on offer are: plain, poppy seed and The Works – a bagel topped with poppy, sesame, toasted garlic and fresh minced onions.
'We're aiming at mums and dads who want to give their family healthy options; young urban professionals; people who've travelled to the US and want real bagels; and consumers who support Irish brands,' said Rosie.
The bakery was established in Dungarvan, Co Waterford in 2001.