Land of the rising bun

Norway’s only nationwide bakery chain, Din Baker AS, is further expanding into the worldwide market

Din Baker is comprised and collectively owned by 84 locally based trade bakers who deliver a range of products, from bread and cakes to bakeoff and semi-baked goods. Serving both its local communities and some of the country’s leading hotel, grocery, restaurant and canteen chains, Din Baker accounts for around 26 per cent of Norway’s bread and bakery market.

The company was established 22 years ago, initially negotiating prices for its 26 bakeries. It went nationwide eight years ago and now has more than 350 outlets throughout Norway. Its shareholders hold a vast knowledge of the business as well as the markets they serve. With a brand and service that is firmly established in its homeland, Din Baker is looking to expand further into Europe, America, and Asia

The Malaysian market represents the biggest break-through from a global perspective. There are currently five stores in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur serving breads, buns, waffles, cakes and coffees. “It has been very successful,” says
marketing director, Frode Olsen. “We are using Malaysia as a gateway to the Asian market. We use the Bakery Moments stores as a bridge to sell Norwegian products such as bread mixes and jams under the brand name Pure Norway. In that sense we have two brand names in Malaysia – the Bakery Moments stores and the Pure Norway produce. In a short amount of time we have made a profit from these operation and are very pleased with that. Based on this success we would like to expand these two brands to other countries on a franchise basis,” Frode adds.

Further expansion into the Far East is ongoing; Din Baker has an agreement with one of the biggest bakeries in South Korea. In February the first Bakery Moment store will be opened in one of the largest universities in Seoul. Further discussions with other distributors in the region are underway; if an agreement can be made with a Chinese distributor, the Pure Norway range could be available in China next year.

Frode is confident that Din Baker’s global footprint can be further increased saying: “We have had a number of positive discussions with people from Germany and USA. We have reached an agreement with a German distributor whose job it will be to sell the Pure Norway products to the grocery market. We recognise the challenges of the market places we are moving into but we think that we have something to offer. The German people have a very good bread culture so sometimes it can be difficult to introduce new products. However they have a good knowledge of Norwegian products and our culture as they spend a lot of time here on holiday, which is a big advantage.

“We are also positive about our US operations – there is a increased focus on people’s health and what they eat there. Our bread is very healthy compared to their typical produce so there is the chance to establish our products. Furthermore the Asian market shows promise because they want to know about Western culture, including the food. I think our results in Malaysia shows there is a wider market there,” Frode says.

While the worldwide presence of the company grows, the national operation is still as important as ever. There is a commitment to producing the best quality products in an environment that Frode admits stays relatively constant in terms of sales: “Norwegian customers eat a similar amount of bread every year but companies are trying to increase their profits. That means that we are constantly researching and releasing new lines that we think will be appealing to the customers and the bakeries. We are also prepared to make cuts to our range if we feel that a certain product is not performing particularly well.”

Two of the company’s recent launches have caught the imagination. The first is a deal with the Save the Children organisation to make a donation of one Norwegian Kroner for every unit of bread sold. The other is a new type of ecological bread that has been rolled out nationwide. The bread is made using only ecological ingredients and is freshly made at the bakeries.

“It is the first freshly baked ecological bread to be released across the whole of Norway. There has been a lot of talk about this kind of product in the last year from a number of people but it is one thing to talk about it and another to deliver what the consumers want. Despite the fact that ecological products often cost more, it has sold very well. We knew there was no equivalent so we felt this was the right time to launch it. We think that this kind of product could make up to five per cent of our sales,” Frode says.

With those products on the shelves and selling well, the Din Baker portfolio is set to grow further. Outlining the present developments, Frode comments: “There are a number of changes happening at the moment. We are currently developing five new breads that we feel we can place in local bakeries. They are easier for us to produce and use renewable packaging, an area we are always keen to look into. We have also bought 50 new shops in the Oslo area recently. We are currently in the process of re-branding these bakeries which would take the amount of franchised stores we have up to around 120.”

With a range of new products, more in the pipeline and expansion at home and abroad, Din Baker and its owners can expect continued prosperity. Looking to the future, Frode says: “The market is in good shape and is growing in value, consumers are willing to spend more money on bread and healthy products. As we develop our products further the demand will grow – that is something we are ready for. We also have the advantage of having a chain of outlets. More and more companies are looking to do the same as it gives you an advantage in the industry. When I look at this business I feel that it will continue to grow.”