Middle East market a sweet move

By David Porter

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Greg Knight joined Florentines Patisserie 15 years ago, with a brief to expand.Photo/File
Greg Knight joined Florentines Patisserie 15 years ago, with a brief to expand.Photo/File

Tauranga's Florentines Patisserie is growing its export footprint with a new move into the Middle East, says managing director Greg Knight.

"It's an amazing contract for us," he said. While declining to name his export partner for reasons of business confidentiality, Mr Knight said Florentines would be working with one of the company's major Australian clients, which was opening a chain of 50 patisserie outlets throughout the United Arab Emirates in the next three-to-five years.

"It's pretty big growth for them and they want us to assist in that development," he said. "We will be supplying all of their new stores."

The latest move reflects the transformation of the former pastry shop started by his parents and patisserie chef brother-in-law in Chapel St 17 years ago. Florentines is now a significant national and exporting business. Mr Knight joined the company 15 years ago, with a brief to expand.

"There was nothing like it in the market when the family started and it did really well, but they wanted to expand and there were really no patisserie-style frozen products on the market, so that's where we developed," he said. The company now sells its desserts in every town in New Zealand, every state in Australia and throughout the Pacific Islands.

"We freeze everything that we produce here and then we sell it to restaurants, hotels, caterers, rest homes, casinos," he said. The company has also diversified over the past two years into providing contract manufacturing services for patisserie chains.

"We were producing for cafes, restaurants and so on, but not individual chains that would normally make desserts themselves," said Mr Knight. "So now what's happened is a lot of those chains don't want to set up those kitchens, because they are very expensive to set up, so they are coming to us and asking us to contract manufacture their style of product with our knowledge. We freeze it and distribute it for them."

Florentines works closely with major distributors throughout New Zealand and Australia, which helps cut down on overheads.

"Greg works very hard," said Elaine Nevill, sales manager for Hamilton-based Food Providers, which provides freight and food distribution services throughout the middle North Island."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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