PHILADELPHIA -- Le Bus Bakery here, looking toward expanding its business with supermarkets, has begun construction on a new facility that will increase its production space nearly tenfold and give it new capabilities.
Based on growth since it began wholesaling its fresh baked-everyday breads five years ago, the company is looking for ways to expand its business, and nation-wide distribution is one of them, officials said.
The new 30,000-square-foot plant in Gulf Mills, Pa., will replace the 5,000-square-foot facility currently in operation here. When it's completed, the company will be able to launch a line of parbaked frozen-dough breads and to begin wholesaling its pastries, said Voran Loncar, director of sales for the upscale bakery.
"We can ship parbaked products all over the country," Loncar said.
The bakery, which has built a reputation in the Philadelphia area with its artisan breads, currently delivers them fresh, every day of the week, Loncar said. At this time, 70% of the the company's sales are to restaurants and other food-service outlets. The remaining 30% is rung up at retail sites, which include supermarkets and specialty stores.
Its supermarket customers include selected units of Clemens Markets, Kulpsville, Pa.; Acme Markets, Malvern, Pa.; Super Fresh, a division of A&P, Montvale, N.J.; Genuardi's Family Markets, Norristown, Pa.; one unit of ShopRite in Gladwyn, Pa.; and foodsource by Clemens, a single-unit, upscale division of Clemens Markets.
At foodsource by Clemens, sales far exceed those at any of the other supermarkets and that's because Le Bus has control of its operation in that store, Loncar said. In its first arrangement of this type with a retailer, the company leases space from foodsource and staffs its own counter. "We pay Clemens a percentage of our sales as rent, and we move a lot of bread there.The employees at the bakery counter are on our payroll. They're familiar with the product and they're trained to sell," Loncar said.
By comparison with other supermarket units that might sell 18 loaves of raisin-pecan or multigrain bread on a weekend day, foodsource is apt to sell twice than many on a slow Monday, he said.
That recently opened store, which is operated as a separate division of Clemens, is also located in a particularly high-income suburb [see Clemens Goes Upscale With foodsource Fresh Format, SN, April 12, 1999].
From that bakery counter at foodsource, Le Bus rings up about 800 items a day, Loncar said. That figure, however, includes Le Bus bagels and pastries, which the other supermarkets, with the exception of one other unit of Clemens, do not carry.