Wed | Jan 20, 2021

Honey Bun going after more of the resort market

Published:Friday | March 13, 2020 | 12:10 AM
CEO of Honey Bun Bakery, Michelle Chong.
File CEO of Honey Bun Bakery, Michelle Chong.

Pastry maker Honey Bun is going after healthy eaters, students and the resort market with new products that are being rolled out throughout the year.

So far, Honey Bun has introduced a wheat-based snack called Pickney Crackers and more recently, a lemon-flavoured doughnut, both targeted at schoolgoers.

More products are in the works.

“One of the products on the drawing board right now is a healthy snack that uses indigenous Jamaican products, and the others have to do with variations of an existing product that we have that will be very innovative,” Honey Bun CEO Michelle Chong told the Financial Gleaner on the margins of the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

The bakery produces and wholesales pastries and cakes, including rum cakes, doughnuts, snack cakes, as well as buns, bread, raisin bread, cinnamon rolls and cheese bread.

Honey Bun is already in the hospitality market, as one of the channels for its burger buns and ­pocket-sized Buccaneer rum cakes, but Chong noted that the company wants to deepen its share of the resort ­sector with healthier baked goods.

“We believe that there is a space for ­innovative new products, not the same old bakery products, with a healthier twist to it for new markets. We are developing products for the hotel industry now and we will be pursuing that aggressively,” she said.

The company’s product innovation phase follows a $150-million expansion in 2018, which included additions to Honey Bun’s existing plant at Retirement Crescent in Kingston.

“With that completed, we also use ­scheduling to maximise our efficiency. Let’s say we can produce 100 products in an hour; we have to find ways now to increase that to a 120 products per hour in responding to demands,” Chong said.

Honey Bun closed its first quarter ending December 2019 with revenue of $422.5 million, up 14 per cent over prior year, due to increased output, penetration of new markets, and export revenue which climbed 149 per cent over the prior year, according to the company’s unaudited financial statements.

The bakery made a profit of $49.1 million in the quarter, up from $38.09 million in the comparative 2018 period.

While Honey Bun works on ­growing sales and profit margins, the company is also in the middle of a human ­resource audit, which Chong expects to be ­completed over the next 90 days.

The audit is part of a three-year ­strategic plan aimed at making technological, ­efficiency and proficiency improvements across the company.

Last year, Honey Bun brought in Canada-based management consultant Alex Ihama, and spent US$40,000 on ­leadership ­training, organisational changes, and cost-saving measures. The HR audit is being conducted by an undisclosed local firm.

“The HR audit will allow us an ­opportunity to compare what we do in HR with global standards,” said Chong. “We believe that it was important for us to undergo an HR audit, not because we are having problems, but because we have this thrust to be the best place of employment, and also because we believe that success is driven by talent.”

As to its implications for staffing: “You never know,” she said. “Could be more staff, could be less, or a restructuring. It all depends on what the audit exposes.”