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Business Acumen 2006

Business Acumen Magazine Nov/Dec 2006

Tasting success

For Quality Desserts, the smell of success has been sweet and the proof of quality is in the pudding.Sugar-coated puns aside, the Toowoomba-based company has built a strong reputation for its range of baked products including mud Barry Smith cakes, lamingtons jam tarts, biscuits, slices, Christmas puddings, cakes and fruit mince pies. The company was founded by father and son team Barry Smith and Julian Lancaster-Smith in 1992, originally to service the single-serve dessert market through take-away chains. "We eventually found that the market for the chilled desserts was not really a terribly good market and we basically responded to requests from the market place/ Mr Smith said. We're a bakery now. The company has extended substantially in the last 14 years and has between 60 and 80 employees depending on the time of the year. The business remains strongly family-orientated, with Mr Lancaster-Smith now operations and marketing director. Mr Smith's youngest son Bradley is chief engineer and their spouses are also employed at Quality Desserts. "That family influence is very important, it makes a big difference," Mr Smith said. Toowoomba-based Quality Desserts caters to a wide variety of wholesale and retail markets including national supermarket chains, airlines, franchises, gift basket companies, hotels, schools, sporting organisations and third party distributors. "Our biggest buyers are major supermarkets and bakeries and we do a iittle bit of export at this stage," Mr Smith said. The company does produce and market a range of Christmas products under the Quaiity Desserts label but most products are branded under buyers' banners. The company has an Australiawide distribution network and also exports to the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore Malaysia, Indonesia,Papua New Guinea and the Phillipines. Mr Smith said the dessert market was a difficult market to achieve growth in and product development was a cautious slow process. "It's very rare to come up with something new, II Mr Smith said. However, there is some room for dessert innovation undertaken by Mr Smith. The company is currently in the process of launching a new product - a sponge flan designed to replace traditional alternatives. "Its a lot nicer than a pastry flan," Mr Smith said.
"The sponge flan has been a project of mine for years. It's been given more attention since the rival German product has been taken off the market in Australia. Other dessert markets - such as cakemixes, muffins and cookies - have been selectively avoided by Mr Smith. The company will now concentrate more on strengthening its hold in Australia, pushed forward by an ongoing presence at trade shows and a growing presence through retailers. For the Quality Desserts team, export success is just the icing on the cake.