Celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2016, ninth generation family run bakery Sternenbaek GmbH is as fresh as ever
Beginning operations with its first bakery in 1766, Sternenbaek GmbH has grown over the last 250 years to accumulate more than 270 locations and over 1800 employees. The company also has production facilities in Gera, Spremberg, Hechingen and Enfurt, all of which operate with a philosophy that the processing of baked goods by hand is just as important as the utilisation of modern technology.
“Sternenbaek GmbH was founded in 1766 by my great grandpa nine times over,” begins Gerhard Bumuller, Managing Director at Sternenbaek GmbH. “During the eighth generation in the 1950s and 60s, the company was a small bakery with one shop at the front of the building, a bakery in the back and a restaurant on the first floor. Managed 53by my grandpa from the 1960s, the company was driven forward to deliver products to regular customers and by the final years of the 80s we had around 80 stores in West Germany. Following this growth, my Dad decided in 1989 to expand into East Germany and diversified our services for a brief amount of time before focusing only on doing business with shops by 1992.”
He continues: “A major benefit for our ongoing growth throughout the 1990s was the fact that we were in the right place at the right time to expand. We also has the right business partners, which enabled us to grow quickly in East Germany, while also maintaining a solid presence in West Germany. However, this growth wouldn’t be possible without our competitive levels of quality and evolving menu of products; we also offer a mix of traditional and non-traditional business. For example, if we are making strudels we will use machinery that can produce 14,000 rolls per hour, but for baked sweet traditional items, we will produce these by hand.”
Indeed, alongside the latest production technology, which is used for high volume products, the company places strong emphasis on the importance of craft within the pastry departments. Here employees produce goods almost entirely by hand; a tradition that also extends to many other baked goods. The facility in Hechingen, which stands at 15,000 square metres and has been in operation since 1992, focuses on modern artisan bakery and confectionary, the production of frozen dough pieces that are focused on liquor goods, Danish pastry and puff pastry.
Meanwhile, the Gera production facility, which stands at 7200 square metres and opened in 2000, focuses on bread and pastry, confectionary and frozen goods. In this location around 60 million units per year of the popular Kaiser buns are produced; Gera has also been awarded the DLG award for its Champion Roll and rye rolls as well as the silver DLG award for its pumpkin seed buns.
The final production facility, Spremberg, stands at 7000 square metres, and focuses on bread and pastry, confectionary goods and frozen goods. It is here that approximately 90 million pieces of precooked Kaiser, bread and Schrippenteiglingen are produced, and also the Schrippen were awarded with the Silver DLG Award for quality in 2013.
“After 250 years it is important to remember that we are still the only owner of this company and have maintained tradition throughout this time. We are not a big bakery with machines, and have instead stuck to our roots by producing a lot of our products by hand; these include cakes and rolls,” highlights Gerhard.
As a fresh baker that believes in delivering ‘taste with heart’, the careful selection of ingredients and fresh preparation of breads and pastries are integral to Sternenbaek’s successful delivery of high quality foods. This commitment to quality also naturally extends to the choosing of suppliers and the training of its bakery professionals; these employees are trained continuously to ensure their knowledge on baking products within the company’s growing portfolio remains up to date. “We listen to the market and what our customers want to remain up-to-date on market trends and in turn train our employees to produce these food items to a high quality,” says Gerhard. “However, although we pay attention to trends, our key focus is on delivering our day-to-day products to a high level of quality every day. In fact, a big part of our product range is the same as it was 20 years ago.”
Once baked, the company’s goods are sent to locations such as bakeries and cafes in retail establishments in the payment zone; bakeries and cafes in shipping centres and retail parks, bakeries and cafes in pedestrian areas or busy places such as buildings at road junctions, metro, tram and bus stops; products are also available at self service bakeries, which would be found at bus stations or train stations.
By placing itself in locations that are central and highly frequented, with good infrastructure, metro, tram or bus stops nearby and good visibility to the public eye, Sternenbaek has developed a strong presence in Germany. Despite its success, the company is keen to continue growing through ongoing expansion into new strategic areas, with its most recent opening taking place in a shop in Meßkirch, Germany, in June 2016.
“Over the coming years we will focus on developing our presence in East Germany further while also developing our shops through refurbishment and so on. Improvement is a daily process, which is why it is important to keep progressing as a way to maintain our competitive edge,” he concludes.