09 October 2010

Big Dad's Pies founder declares he's broke as Big Dad's highway store at Goodna closes

Big Dad's Pies founder: I'm broke
Zane Jackson | 9th October 2010

ICONIC food chain Big Dad's Pies has been dealt a major blow following
the closure of its supplier and four stores in Ipswich – the city
where the business began.

CEO and founder Stephen Donnelly this week closed his four stores in
North Ipswich, Churchill, Ebbw Vale and Goodna's Railway Terrace at
short notice.

Another of Mr Donnelly's businesses that supplied pies to the
remaining 26 Big Dad's franchises also closed, leaving store owners
only with the stock left in their freezers.

They will be forced to use to interim pies and pastries until
franchisee owner, the Retail Food Group (RFG), can find a new
supplier, which it expects will be by the end of the week.

Some franchise store owners and workers at the Heathwood-based supply
business, the Pie and Pastry Emporium, claim they were not given
notice about the closure and are awaiting their pay.

The Retail Food Group brought the chain's franchising rights and
intellectual property, including pie recipes, from Mr Donnelly in
April this year for an undisclosed sum.

Mr Donnelly yesterday said he had been forced to wind up his
operations because he could no longer afford to keep them open.

"Things have gone quiet, overheads have increased and the cash flow
has dried up," he said.

"We had to look at what was best for us. For me this is seven-
and-a-half years of hard work gone."

He said workers were aware that the closure was happening, but not
when. He said he was the "big loser" out of the closures, with the Pie
and Pastry Emporium owing money to creditors.

An Ipswich worker from the supply business, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, said staff had had no notice of the closures and had not
been paid.

"We don't know if we'll ever see the money owed to us," he said.

A Big Dad's store owner from the Ipswich region said he only heard
about the supply business winding up on Wednesday morning.

The store owner said he was concerned the interim pies and pastries he
would have to now sell could turn away Big Dad's fans.

But RFG head of strategy Gary Alford stressed his firm still owned the
rights to the recipes and that a new supplier should be found by the
end of next week.

Mr Alford said it was important to understand only Mr Donnelly's
stores had closed, not the whole chain, and that RFG would talk to
landlords about the possibility of taking over the closed sites.

He said RFG was taking contact details of workers left without a job
and would try to find them work where possible.

"It's been a big 24 to 48 hours for us, long hours, trying to ensure
that franchises can continue to trade," he said yesterday.

Big Dad's Pies was established in Ipswich in 2003 with the pie recipes
of Mr Donnelly's father Noel Donnelly.

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