Interview: Semi-finished Products Are in Mademoiselle’s DNA

Mademoiselle Desserts has grown from a business with a staff of 30 employees into a leading producer of frozen baked goods in Europe. Didier Boudy, the company’s CEO, shared with us the values in product innovation and authenticity that have helped build the company, trends and important changes.

Mademoiselle Desserts started the year with an award recognizing the semi-finished pastry base kits. Please share details about this range.

Semi-finished products are part of Mademoiselle’s DNA. Tart cases, puff pastry, sponges bases, choux pastry ready to fill are at the heart of our know-how. The Pépites de la Boulangerie prize has put our choux craquelin know-how under the spotlight and has enabled us to gain new listings. So, a very positive development!

What bakery needs do the kits meet?

Choux pastry is quite difficult to produce, especially with good consistency. When you want it with a nice crumble on the top, it’s even more tricky. So having a nice choux or eclair perfectly baked, with a very consistent shape and ready to be filled is of great help to both restaurants, artisan bakers or in-store bakeries.

The company was created has grown from a business with a staff of 30 employees into a leading producer of frozen baked goods in Europe. What are some of the key moments in this evolution, and what changes did they bring?

It’s been a long and fantastic journey. The company was created in 1984 and was sold by the founder to a big English corporation (RHM) in 1998. This was the start of a more industrial phase with a big extension of the site in 2000 with two big automated lines. But, unfortunately, no major investment followed.

In 2009, the English group decided to divest their French operations. With five colleagues, backed by two French private equities, we decided to buy out what was named Martine Specialités at that time. One plant, 400 employees and close to EUR70m in revenues: that was our starting point. A well-positioned and healthy business but under-invested and having lost its entrepreneurial drive in this big group.

Then, in 2010, Mademoiselle Desserts made a major investment of EUR7 million for fully baked and finished products, plus the implementation of an ERP; a big jump for the business.

The first acquisition was in 2011, two sites in Brittany in one deal. This marked the first extension of our product range with entremets (layer cakes and desserts).

Two acquisitions followed in 2012: one in France, to consolidate our position on entremets, then our first acquisition outside France, in the UK.

2013 brought the change of private equities, each time a big project as we had nearly doubled the size of the business. The year after that, our second acquisition in the UK consolidated our business there. And, in 2016, we arrived in a new country, with a first deal in the Netherlands.

Thanks to these acquisitions and organic growth when we changed again private equities in 2018, the group had reached EUR220m revenue and was based in three different countries.

Immediately after the change of shareholders, we bought out two businesses in France totaling EUR100M revenue. The group now comprises 12 sites employing 2,000 people and generating around EUR350m in sales.

There have been several other milestones with major investments, new key people joining the team and others leaving, great sustainable development achievements and, of course, fantastic new products developed.

How are new products developed, what are the main development stages and timeframes?

The whole business is organized around innovation and product development. We’ve got our push (our ideas and plans) and pull (customers’ requests) project. The whole process is managed on bespoke software to ensure efficiency and reliability. But our chefs are our real value: spread over the different bakeries, they each focus on one or two product categories to ensure a high level of expertise and close proximity with the production teams, to guarantee a smooth transition from the development stage to the day to day production. We target an average of 10% of our revenue generated by SKUs that are less than one year old!

You can read the rest of this interview in the May-June Issue of European Baker & Biscuit magazine, which you can access by clicking here.

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