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."