Peter Arnold, Managing Director of Massfresh (left) and Wayne Duncan, chief executive of Retsols celebrate the store opening.

South Africa’s largest bakery franchise, Corner Bakery, is moving beyond the overcrowded filling station forecourt retail environment with which it has been traditionally associated into mainstream retail with innovative concession model stores within Game outlets countrywide.

The first of these recently opened at the Game store in the Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga.

According to Wayne Duncan, chief executive of Durban based franchise holding company Retsol, which owns the Corner Bakery brand, the opening of these “store within a store” outlets is part of a strategic repositioning of the Corner Bakery brand.

“Moving the focus from forecourt retail to stand-alone locations that cater to wider audiences and concession model retail formats within established supermarkets will all contribute to making the brand and its products more accessible to the buying public,” he explains, adding that the bakery concession model is not a new concept globally but it is definitely relatively new in South Africa.

Globally, this model emerged as big box retailers such as Walmart recognised a need to move into more holistic offerings for their customers.

Game, part of Walmart owned and JSE listed, Massmart Holdings was a perfect place to start.

Massmart is Africa’s third largest distributor of consumer goods, the leading retailer of general merchandise, liquor and home improvement equipment and supplies, and the leading wholesaler of basic foods. Game has 110 stores in 12 African countries.

Peter Arnold, Managing Director of Massfresh, the Massmart subsidiary responsible for Massmart’s butchery, bakery and fresh produce business across all Massmart chains, says: “We saw great strategic alignment with the Corner Bakery customer profile and brand as well as an exciting opportunity to bring a focused convenience bakery offering into this supermarket environment. We are also encouraged by Game making significant strides in becoming a significant competitor in the fresh food supermarket category in South Africa although the long journey has only just begun. A great bakery product range is a key part of this strategic plan.”

The Game Gateway Corner Bakery outlet, which is located at the front of the store, measures 20 m². However, each bakery will be specific to the size and needs of its ‘host’ Game outlet. Products will include the popular Corner Bakery pies, rotisserie chicken, pre-packed bakery products including Gourmet Creations Cakes and Confectionery, Muffin Club 3-pack Muffins and Corner Bakery rolls and breads.

Corner Bakery’s rapid expansion into the Game chain is backed by its vertically integrated supply chain and the extensive national distribution network that supports outlets across South Africa and into Africa.

Currently Corner Bakery has over 420 stores throughout South Africa.

Over the next two years, the brand plans to expand through the launch of additional corporate stand-alone stores, innovative new business formats with new strategic partners as well as through stores within Game. This is part of a continued strategy to remain South Africa’s number one convenience bakery brand of choice.

Three corporate stand-alone stores will open in July (one in KwaZulu-Natal and two in Gauteng) with the intent of opening another 12 before the end of 2016.  This will add to the existing 13 corporate stand-alone stores that Retsol has already opened, taking the total to approximately 25 corporate standalone stores by year end.  Retsol plans to open between 30 to 50 new corporate sites annually.

After fine tuning the new concession store model within the Game store environment, Retsol plans to roll out concession stores to the rest of the Game stores in South Africa as quickly as possible.  In addition, Retsol plans to open Corner Bakery outlets in the Game stores located in Oshakati (Namibia) and Lusaka (Zambia) in August.  Corner Bakery is the leading independent bakery brand in both these countries with 16 Namibian and 10 Zambian outlets.

In addition to South Africa, Corner Bakery has stores in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Reunion, Mauritius and expects to take the total store count across the entire African continent to close to 600 in the near future through some exciting new relationships and opportunities. The business employs 230 people and has created jobs for more than 2,000 people through its franchises.

“We believe that we will continue to register double digit growth for the foreseeable future. We are growing sales aggressively through new store openings, new strategic partnerships and focused marketing activities.” Duncan explains.

In total, Corner Bakery has more than 2,000 menu items but the new format corporate stores and concession model stores cater to a more focused product offering. Pies will remain a central consumer attractor. Each month, Corner Bakery serves up over one million pies and is considered by many as South Africa’s number one pie brand!