Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bagels Bring Taste Of Broadway To Ireland

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."