David Beak, founder and chief executive of Australian food business Beak & Sons, discusses motivations for starting the family business more than 30 years ago in Sydney and the business' ties to New Zealand.
What does the business do?
Beak & Sons creates delicious food to make busy lives more easy. The business started out as a family butchery business in 1986 supplying restaurants with their steaks and supermarkets with pre-cut meat, and then we evolved into making meals and soups and slow cooked ribs for restaurant chains and they became so popular we then decided to move them into retail through the supermarkets. Since then we have bought in a few brands to expand out the business.
We bought Pitango seven years ago because we had a major soup business in Australia and Pitango was a major brand, and we just thought we could develop the category in Australia and then we saw the opportunities in New Zealand. We really liked the whole New Zealand culture of the farm supplying arm of Pitango and the New Zealand innovation. It was started by a couple from Israel in New Zealand and we acquired it from private equity in 2012. Tasty Pot is another brand that we acquired in December in 2018.
What was the motivation for starting Beak & Sons?
We started the business to develop the chilled convenience food category. We saw a lot of success in the restaurant chains we were supplying with meats and we just felt there was a real opportunity for us in the retail market - that's where a brand is really powerful.
How big is your team?
We've got a great Kiwi team lead by a couple of top-notch girls. In New Zealand, we have around 60 people working for us. The Pitango brand here has got around 30 staff, Beak & Sons about 15 and Tasty Pot another 15.
Israel Dagg recently got involved in the business, tell me about that and what is his role within the company?
Israel is a brand ambassador and has so far done an outstanding job. He's got a great sense of humour and loves food, and as an iconic Kiwi we couldn't have a better partner. He is helping us with marketing the brand here in New Zealand through our videos, he has also done cook-offs at trade shows and is representing us where he can.
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What is Beak & Sons focused on this year?
Supporting growth of the business. We're hoping to get 20 per cent growth in the business this year and the same again next year. What Beak & Sons is doing this year is really broadening the ability of the business to supply products through out the year. A lot of the Beak & Sons product sells slightly better in summer and the soups sell slightly better in winter so having these two brands really balances the business, and we hope to continue to grow through expanding into new markets.
What are the long term plans and will the company acquire more brands?
Our whole strategy is to develop this chilled convenience food market and if we feel brands will help create that then we will use brands and if not we'll use private labels. Our intentions is to keep developing the business in New Zealand and develop new markets in export in South East Asia and North America through retail stores. If we could get into the United States that would be the biggest opportunity but it is the most competitive market. In South East Asia, convenience retail is a relatively embryonic market so it is a growing opportunity we want to tap into.
What advice do you give others wanting to start their own business?
Have a passion, and don't give up.