Sunday, December 17, 2006
Sunday Business Post
Launching an indigenous bagel brand in Ireland is akin to launching a soda bread brand in New York. But Dungarvan-based Broadway Bagels has pulled it off. Mind you, given one of its founding partners is a native New Yorker and bagels are her favourite food, maybe it's not so surprising!
Husband and wife team, Des and Rosie Sheehan started the Broadway Bagel company in 2002. Their aim was to bring a range of authentic New York-style bagels, without preservatives, additives or cholesterol, to an emerging market of discerning food lovers.
Broadway Bagels are made to an authentic, secret New York formula, using only the freshest ingredients sourced in Ireland. They are dairy-free and have less than 2 per cent fat.
Rosie Sheehan said: "We're constantly striving to offer our customers new ways to enjoy our bagels. Due to overwhelming demand, we are now introducing two new varieties, namely, Cinnamon & Raisin and Lunchbox bagels."
Lunchbox bagels are a handy, smaller-sized version that come packed six to a bag.
"They are unseeded, providing the perfect base for favourite sandwich fillings to fit today's 'on-the-go' lifestyle. And, they are just the right size for children's lunchboxes. And as with our existing frozen retail offerings, Poppy and the Works bagels, these bagels are pre-sliced, low-fat and low-salt, and because they don't contain anything artificial, we freeze them, to keep them pure," she said. Broadway Bagels achieved Kosher certification this summer, which marked another milestone, as did the deal struck with Superquinn whereby Broadway Bagels supplies Superquinn bakeries with an American Brownie Mix that's baked in-store.
Another major development sees Broadway Bagels exporting its entire range to Whole Foods in London, the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket.
The company has experienced solid growth and awareness since its launch four years ago and Rosie and Des Sheehan are very grateful to Waterford County Enterprise Board (WCEB) for the assistance provided to them.
"When we became involved with the WCEB, we were financially very stretched. We had put our life savings into the business, and needed funding to purchase machinery and for training," said Rosie.
"If we didn't receive the funding, we probably would have gone bust, because our contact at the bank at the time had little faith in a bagel company.
"In fact she had never heard of a bagel before! However, Anike Tyrrell at WCEB was a big fan of our bagels and from the start, she was on our side.
"Ger Enright at the WCEB visited our premises and he too could see the potential.
"They helped us with capital to buy machinery, because at the time, Des was forming the bagels using a cookie cutter, with a shot glass to form the hole!
"On the marketing front, we had a bit of a battle because we were creating a new category in supermarket freezers, as shoppers normally look for bagels in the bread section.
"WCEB stepped in once again by funding a marketing consultant, Tessa O'Connell from Brand-Edge, who taught us a lot about PR and marketing.
"Before we met Tessa we had never even heard of a focus group," said Rosie.
"WCEB also assisted us by providing someone to teach us what we needed to know about basic accounting and bookkeeping.
"This has allowed us keep a better handle on our finances.
"WCEB have helped us tremendously.
"We have come quite far, in short space of time and a lot of our success is thanks to the assistance received from the WCEB."
Friday, September 1, 2006
British Baker Magazine
After moving to Ireland from New York, the Sheehans missed the taste of a good bagel so much that they started baking them themselves, reports Hugh Oram
When Des and Rosie Sheehan set up the Broadway Bagel company in Dungarvan, Co Waterford in Ireland, they had little or no baking experience - merely a passion for a product they missed. The couple, who had been living in New York, moved to Dungarvan six years ago, with little idea of what they were going to do. For Dublin-born Des and New Yorker Rosie, it was a case of 'reverse immigration'.
Rosie had seen several members of her family move to the country over the years. Her father and brother live in Dublin and her sister also married an Irishman. When her mother and grandmother also moved to Ireland, it seemed logical for Rosie and Des to follow suit, but they still had not decided what career to pursue.
A Taste Of Home
An idea did not take long to present itself when the couple found they could not get the one staple of their diet they missed the most - the authentic New York bagel.
"Neither Des nor I have a background in baking. In fact, I don't think Des knew how to turn on an oven' says Rosie. "And I had just baked for pleasure - cookies and brownies for the family."
Des had previously run a construction company in New York, while Rosie had worked for the Transport Workers' Union. But in Ireland, bagels seemed like a sure-fire winner, what with the shift towards healthy eating and convenience foods. So they decided to take on the challenge.
To begin with, Rosie made a batch at home. While they tasted pretty good, she says, it took four hours to make just a dozen. Undeterred, however, the couple opened a bagel shop in Dungarvan in 2001, but closed it a year later when they realised that, given the location, they were ahead of their time.
"At that stage, it was sink or swim," says Rosie, "so we concentrated on the foodservice market, bringing samples to coffee shops and sandwich bars."
Broadway Bagels are now listed with all the major retail multiples in Ireland and the couple distribute to foodservice outlets, such as cafes and coffee bars. There is a network of national distributors for foodservice and retail symbol groups, while, for multiple retail outlets, the products go straight to central distribution. They have recently appointed a distributor for the London area, who will soon start supplying a number of high-profile shops in and around the British capital.
As part of their steep learning curve the Sheehans readily admit they have had help from a number of sources along the way. The couple are signed up to the First Sales Programme run by Enterprise Ireland, the government agency for encouraging home-grown businesses. Run in conjunction with retail grocery player Musgraves, the programme is designed to support high-potential food businesses in winning retail listings. With no background in the food business, the Sheehans acknowledge that approaching the retail sector was intimidating. "It helps to have a programme like First Sales to prepare us for dealing with buyers and train us to support listings," says Rosie.
The recent Bord Bia buyers event in Dublin, which introduced food producers to buyers, was also very successful for the firm. "We've done a few trade shows, but the Bord Bia event was by far the most beneficial," says Rosie. "Most trade shows are a bit frenzied, like an after-Christmas sale at Bloomingdale's! But the Bord Bia event, in the gorgeous setting of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin, meant meetings could be pre-scheduled with buyers and allowed suppliers to give tailor-made presentations. As each meeting was 20 minutes, you had time to shoot the breeze."
Broadway Bagels' product development work is done in-house, but again, the Sheehans had plenty to learn. Rosie says the first time they heard of focus groups was from Tessa O'Connell, a marketing consultant with Brand Edge Marketing in Dublin. "We showed her our package designs and she asked us about feedback from market research and focus groups, which were new to us. Tessa said: 'Guys, wake up and smell the coffee.' So we took her advice, did the focus groups and the tastings, and the packaging changed significantly as a result."
The company has also invested in HACCP accreditation for its bakery and it is working on British Retail Consortium accreditation.
In terms of marketing the products, Rosie says that the firm's greatest marketing tool is product quality and a reflection of New York authenticity. But word of mouth is equally important, supported by the promotional activities of the various multiples. Broadway Bagels also has a well-developed website.
The biggest obstacle to growth is a lack of time. "We are multi-taskers, but there is only so much that can be accomplished in a day. Maybe cloning isn't such a bad thing!" she says. "Des and I have three little boys, aged three, five and seven, so we cannot work all hours. We need time to devote to our family."
Ireland now has 60-70 bagel shops, but the Sheehans have never returned to retailing. Instead, their l0,000sq ft bakery churns out the bagels for their retail and catering customers. While the bakery is equipped with traditional bagel machinery, sourced in Ireland and Belgium, the Sheehans have re-engineered these to suit their needs. And, after just six years in the hot seat, they're already taking the first steps towards building a new plant.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
The short-list of finalists in the inaugural "SFA National Small Business Awards", partnered by O2 Ireland and Bank of Ireland Business Banking, were officially announced today by Angela Kennedy, Awards Director & SFA Chairperson. 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.
"This year's finalists are representative of a diverse range of businesses, driven by single-minded people who perceived a need in the marketplace and followed their instincts with a drive and vision that epitomizes the essential elements of true entrepreneurship. This Awards Programme has set about to identify and acclaim the new entrepreneurial role models, across a variety of sectors, who have spawned new ideas, taken risks and who continue to make such a valid contribution to Ireland's growing innovation culture", Angela Kennnedy, Awards Director.
A top-class judging panel selected the short-list of finalists including:- Angela Kennedy, Awards Director & Chair of the SFA; Gerry McQuaid, Commercial Director of O2; Cathal Muckian, Director of Bank of Ireland Business Banking; Brian O'Kane, Managing Director of Oaktree Press and author of numerous business books; Frank Roche, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Smurfit School of Business; Rita Shah, Managing Director of Shabra Plastics and Packaging Ltd; and Richard Curran, Business Editor of the Irish Independent.
Food & Drink Awards Finalists
Broadway Bagels - Rosie Sheehan, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Broadway Bagels is an award-winning family-owned bakery in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, producing authentic New York style bagels to the foodservice and retail sectors. In 2005, Broadway Bagels launched two retail offerings, 'Poppy' and 'The Works'. These 500g retail packs are pre-sliced, fully baked and frozen and go straight from freezer to toaster and are four to a pack. Broadway Bagels are healthy (nothing artificial added), convenient and trendy. They are low in fat, dairy-free and have no cholesterol. Due to overwhelming demand, Broadway Bagels will soon launch two new varieties 'Cinnamon and Raisin' (four-pack) and 'The Lunchbox Bagel' (six-pack).
Contact: Rosie Sheehan Tel: 1850 BAGELS (1850 224357)
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The Sunday Times
The transition from artisan producer to supplying big chains takes a lot of planning.
Global brands such as Nestlé and Kellogg's may dominate supermarket shelves, but there's still space for new, innovative food companies to push through - if they know how to go about it.
Waterford based Broadway Bagels succeeded by creating a new food item in the form of sliced, frozen bagels.
The company was set up in 2002 when New Yorker Rosie Sheehan and Des, her Irish husband, spotted a gap in the market for Irish bagels.
Initially they set up a bagel bar in Dungarvan but "it was ahead of its time", according to Rosie. When it failed, the duo began supplying cafes and canteens around the country.
When members of the public started asking where they could buy the bagels, the couple knew they had found a market and set about building a brand.
Today Broadway Bagels operates out of a 5,000sq ft unit, employs eight people and makes 10,000 bagels a day, many sold through Tesco, Superquinn and Centra. Right now the company is gearing up for export to Britain and beyond.
"Before setting up in business, I had been working in an office in Manhattan and my husband was in construction, so we had no idea what to expect when it came to trying to get a supermarket listing," said Sheehan.
"We weren't negotiators. We weren't business people. We simply spotted a gap in the market and had absolute confidence in our product."
Their ignorance did them no harm. "We were also in a position where failure simply wasn't an option," she said. "We put all our money into the business."
The decision to ramp up from speciality producer to supermarket supplier is not to be taken lightly, said John Hickey of Hickey & Associates, which helps food businesses make the transition.
"Just 10 years ago the artisan producer would have evolved from supplying small local stores to multinational retailers through a natural process, their systems and capacity expanding gradually to match," said Hickey.
"That is no longer the case. Now the entrepreneur pretty much has to decide at the point of entry which route he or she is going to go."
It is, however, a good time to be an artisan producer looking for a supermarket listing.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Broadway Bagels was among the companies acclaimed in the Product of the Show awards at Ireland's new retail, food and drink event, Shop 2006, which took place in the RDS.
The show's coveted 'Product of the Show Awards' recognised the innovation and enterprise inherent in the food and retail industry.
Over 100 products were entered by companies for an award and the judges selected winners across seven categories, covering everything from best food, beverage, meat, confectionery to best retail technology.
Waterford-based company, Broadway Bagels, were highly commended in the Best Irish Food / Beverage Product category.
The company won the prize for 'The Works Bagel' and also launched two new products at the show; the Plain Lunchbox bagels and Cinnamon & Raisin bagels.
The judging panel, chaired by John McGrath of Dawn Farm Foods, included Teresa Brophy, Bord Bia, John O'Brien, Consultant, Miriam Atkins, Irish Food Magazine and Dermot McConnell, Musgrave Food Services.
Shop 2006 is Ireland's only international food and drink event. It hosted over 250 national and international exhibitors showcasing everything from, gluten free meals and exotic meats to organic spices and luxury handmade chocolates and from handmade gourmet pork products and farmhouse cheese to fresh fruit smoothies and vodka and berry liqueurs.
Over 5,000 national buyers attended the event, representing Multiples, Independent Retailers, Symbol Group, Wholesalers, Fore-court & Retail Shops, Convenience Stores, Bakeries, Butchers, Newsagents, Cash n' Carry, Off Licenses and Delis.
All visitors to the show had the opportunity to see the Product of the Show entries and winner's list, including Broadway Bagels of Waterford.
Thursday, February 9, 2006
By Justine O'Mahony
2006 heralds a bright future for Dungarvan based company, Broadway Bagels, which was set up by Des and Rosie Sheehan in 2001. Des is originally from Raheny and had previously worked in the construction industry in New York while Rosie, a native New Yorker, was an insurance claims processor. "We moved back in 2000 because we wanted to bring up our children here and we noticed a gap in the market for authentic bagels. Nobody was making them here. We reckoned it would be a great business to get into, lots of potential and if we didn't do it, someone else would," explains Rosie.
They spent months trying to perfect the recipe for their bagels. "In New York a bagel recipe is almost sacred. Nobody will tell you what it is. It's a very scientific process and we threw out bins of bagels before we come up with the formula we have now." They set up a bagel shop in a small mews in Dungarvan and subsequently started bringing the bagels around to various cafes and restaurants in Dublin. A year later they closed the bagel shop and decided to concentrate on wholesale. 'Something had to give. We were working flat out; I was pregnant with our third child and the shop just didn't take off. I think we were ahead of ourselves. I don't think Dungarvan was ready for it," maintains Rosie.
The Sheehan's were able to secure a distributorship for their wholesale business and from there the business finally took off. "All of our bagels are frozen, so we had to link up with a frozen foods distributor. The only problem was if you work through a distributor in the food sector you're taking away the brand identity." By summer 2003, the Sheehan's had people ringing them asking them where could they buy their bagels and so they decided to explore selling directly to the retail sector. Nearly three years later and their bagels are now being carried by most of the major supermarket chains throughout the country. "It's been a hard slog. We've had a couple of rough years where I had doubts about the business succeeding but Des never did. I've learnt that a lot of what the business is about is networking."
In 2004 Broadway Bagels moved to new premises on an industrial estate in Dungarvan and now employ seven people. "It started off with just Des, myself and a girl called Lisa Hilton and now there's seven of us. We're hoping to expand the range so there's a possibility of needing more staff," says Rosie. The company has also had interest from two other countries keen to import their bagels. "This is great but at the moment we want to concentrate on Ireland, to make sure the Irish market is being well served." 2006 looks good for Broadway Bagels. They've been nominated and shortlisted for two Business of the Year awards run by the Small Firms Association. "Things are going really well at the moment; we couldn't be happier."
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Food And Wine Magazine
Husband and wife team Des and Rosie Sheehan from Dungarvan, County Waterford have launched their Broadway Bagel range which is currently on sale in the freezer departments of Tesco, Superquinn and Spar. Rosie is a native New Yorker and says the new bagel range is driven by the Irish consumer's desire for that real New York bagel experience. Broadway Bagel currently offers a poppy seed version and one that goes by the name of 'The Works made with poppy and sesame seeds, toasted garlic and red onion