Given that his parents have a snack food business, The Fibre Food Company, it was probably always likely George Ardagh would gravitate towards the same sector. He has, but he took a few detours along the way. Over the years he has sold remote control devices for gates, run an online wedding shop and, most recently, launched a poncho wholesale business.
A passion for donuts however has given him his most successful venture yet. “I just love donuts,” says Ardagh. “I have some family in Canada and whenever I went there the first thing I would do is head for the donut shop.” In 2012 he decided to take the love affair a step further and see if there was a business in it , travelling to the US to undertake a tour of donut shops. While there he bought US-style donut equipment, had it shipped over, and set about perfecting recipes. The next step was to rent a food grade unit at a subsidised price at SPADE, an incubation centre for food businesses in central Dublin.
Empire Donuts began trading in February 2013 and his success has been anything but half baked: “We’re flying,” says Ardagh, who employs four people, has secured a listing with Tesco and supplies to Rail Gourmet, the international railway catering supplier.
“In the beginning I was doing the cooking, the deliveries, making sales and doing accounts and even now I have help I’m still working seven days a week,” says Ardagh.
The work is paying off however. “It’s all about the volume. We needed to get the numbers up to benefit from economies of scale and we’re starting to do that. We have export potential and are in a really good place now.”