Lindsay McConochie in 2011.
Lindsay McConochie in 2011. Kasun Ubayasiri

'It was a no brainer': Popular business closed to retail

AFTER 45 years in the industry, an Ipswich baker has given up on the afternoon tea rush.

For close to five decades, Lindsay McConochie has been getting up with the sparrows to bake bread and cakes for the city's hungry but three weeks ago, he closed his shop to retail customers.

He's still firing up the ovens at his Eastern Heights business before most of the city is even out of bed but his working day is finished after five hours - and he's making more money than working 11 hour days.

Lindsay closed his business to retail but took up a series of lucrative wholesale supply contracts.

It means there are no cakes for afternoon tea and sandwiches for lunch, but he doesn't mind.

"The retail section has died over the last six years and once the school went we really took a battering. Then when Coles opened up they had an in-store bakery so there were four bakeries within 100m of each other," he said.

"In the wholesale section we only service cafes, restaurants, clubs, businesses and bulk orders and not the general public.

"Now there are newfangled ideas and you just have to role with it to make it sustainable."

He said now the business can make more money before the sun rises than they used to be able to in 11 hours a day.

"When I bought the bakery 11 years ago we were doing turnover of $18000 a week and that went down to $2500," Lindsay said.

"You never know when you were going to get a customer in the front door. There was no longer any money to be made, it was not viable.

McConochies bakery at Eastern Heights is closed to retail.
McConochies bakery at Eastern Heights is closed to retail. Emma Clarke

"The final nail was when Coles opened up. People love a one-stop-shop and I am the same myself.

"We were serving 90 to 100 people a day and that went down to 23 to 30. It just wasn't sustainable.

"You can't keep the doors open for 19 people that would spend $5 a day when they could afford it.

"It was a no brainer, you just can't support that."

Lindsay said the new business model had changed his family. His wife didn't have to work 11 hours days any more, they worked in the morning and went home.

He said he knew the food he was baking would be sold and there was no wastage.

"We have reduced stress, we're making more money and we're happy," he said.  

The McConochie family knows their way around a bread oven.

Lindsay's eldest brother introduced the family to baking 'when he married the baker's daughter' in the 1960s and Lindsay started his apprenticeship in Dalby when he was 14.

His great uncle Jack McConochie had one of the first bakeries in Dalby.

That was 45 years ago and since then the family, including three of the six brothers, have owned and managed six bakeries in Ipswich including at Brassall, North Ipswich and Eastern Heights.

Lindsay's bakery is the last of the family's businesses in Ipswich.

"I love it, I don't know anything else, it's my passion," Lindsay said.

"We only ever did old fashioned quality baked goods because we catered for the elderly community in the area. They were not looking for the fancy stuff so we never had any of that.

"Vanilla slice is my favourite, I just love vanilla slice."