We believe that business innovation is one of the major reasons for Rich’s immense growth and success over the years.
When Rich’s was founded in Johannesburg, in 1992, nobody in the industry saw us as much of a player, however, that was about to change.
Changing those perceptions would not be an easy journey though, and would take the visionary leadership of one man, Evan Poulos, the founding CEO of Rich’s South Africa.
He believed that our customers needed to determine the direction the business move in and made sure that customer relationships were made a priority. In getting to know all the major in-store bakery operators, it became obvious there were huge opportunities, but also major obstacles. One of the biggest obstacles proving to be the fact that everybody was baking from scratch. A time-consuming task that hardly ever proved profitable for the bakery.
Rather than start a price war with our competitors, our team took the value-added approach with bakeries. We knew we had the best products, a well-trained technical team and solid customer marketing programs, so this was a logical approach.
At the time, cake sales in South African bakeries was an untapped market that very few players deemed worthwhile to invest in, but that’s where we built our case. We staged in-store cake-decorating promotions that created theatre and excitement for entire families and, better yet, got Rich’s frozen bakery products into the mouths of the customers themselves. As the needle started to move for their cake sales, bakery specialists realised that Rich’s had their businesses’ best interests at heart. We would provide them added value through product training and assistance through store openings and other promotions and in turn, bakery operators started regarding Rich’s as their trusted first-choice supplier.
Next we turned our attention to Rich’s non-dairy toppings, our flagship product line. We knew we could increase sales of our toppings if our bakery customers were able to sell more cakes. But we faced another major obstacle: their mixers and ovens usually were overloaded with rolls and breads. These were historically, the top-sellers for bakeries, which meant that they would focus on ensuring constant supply of these items and did not have additional capacity for cake production.
We knew that solving this dilemma would open the doors of success within the bakery industry – not just for our business, but also for every single bakery we serviced. We stepped up to introduce Rich’s ready-made Frozen Sponge Layers, which didn’t need any oven time – just defrost, decorate and put on display. It was truly a revolution! Very soon these cakes were flying off the shelves, with some stores increasing their cake sales more than tenfold.
Almost overnight, the cake category in South Africa’s bakeries, which had been virtually non-existent up to this point, jumped from approximately No. 26 in the in-store bakery nationally to around No. 4.
Rich’s serves all of South Africa today thanks to customers demanding the best. Our phenomenal growth can be attributed to our focus on delivering value to our customers, which we were able to do, by knowing the market, understanding the customer’s business, recognising trends and being prepared to innovate.