Iconic Burnley pie brand Haffner's now under new ownership
The new owners of Haffner's Pies want the iconic Burnley brand to become a household name throughout the whole of the UK.
Dean Cockett, co-founder of Businesswise Solutions, and his brother Ted, have promised to keep the recipes the same, look after existing staff, and drive the business forward after taking over from outgoing managing director John Haffner, the great grandson of the original founder.
The family bakery extends back four generations, and has been trading in the town since 1889.
The sale, which was handled by the commercial division of Pendle Hill Properties, includes the Marlborough Street bakery and the historic Keirby Walk shop, which has been operating from there since 1970. Manager Neil Sledding, who has been with Haffner’s for 35 years, will remain.
John said he received several offers for the business, but went with Dean and Ted because they were local, young, fans of the Haffner brand, and he liked their plans for the future.
“We received an incredible amount of offers for the business, including from national brands," said John.
"The money needed to be right but the continuity of the Haffner's name was so important to me and my family - we needed to make sure it was going to somebody that would continue to build the business but without jeopardising the quality and service that we've built since 1889.
"We spoke with Ted and Dean and they were on the same page. They talked a lot about staff development, hiring more staff and investing in new equipment and infrastructure amongst other things, and it just felt right.
"They have a clear plan and with the help of the staff, I'm sure they'll take Haffner’s on and make a great success of it.
"It’s time for myself and Eileen to retire, so we wanted somebody local to take over and carry on running Haffner’s. I’ll be around to help them for a while, there’s no cut off date for us to leave.
"We’ve got a caravan up in Silverdale so I’m looking forward to relaxing!”
Dean said buying a Haffner’s pie before going on the Turf had been a pre-match tradition of his stretching back years, and to be given the chance to take over a “Burnley institution” was a huge honour.
“I’d spotted the advertisement that the business was for sale and spoke to Ted immediately, we’re real foodies. I’ve been going on the Turf for over 30 years and buying a Haffner's Pie pre match was a regular occurrence, as it is for many on match days with queues around the block. Everybody has heard of Haffner’s around here, it’s a Burnley institution!
"We have no plans to change the recipes, I’m sure everyone will be pleased to hear – and they’ll still be handmade in the same bakery with the same team, so nothing will change for our customers.
"We’ve already made a significant investment in new machinery, including a pastry roller and mixer before the sale even went through, to make the staff’s lives easier and improve efficiencies – we listened to what they wanted.
"I’ll be joint partners with Ted while he does the day-to day running of Haffner’s, both the bakery and the butchers. I’ll be around looking at operations, and there for advice.
"The Haffners have built such a great brand over the years and we think there’s lots of potential.
"While we won’t be changing the existing products, we will be looking at ways to get more pies out to the UK – we are looking at new sales channels, and working on how we can roll out a delivery service across the UK.
"We’re also looking at our social media, and how we can improve that so more people know about Haffner’s in a wider area.
"We sell 10,000 pies a week now – who knows where we can take that in the future. We’ll be making the maximum use of our manufacturing capabilities, making improvements here and there, and looking at developing new varieties of pies.
"We really wanted to take on Haffner’s as it’s a great local business steeped in tradition, however with that comes responsibility, and we wouldn’t want to mess it up.
"We’ll have the same staff, Becky has worked at Haffner’s for 17 years, and been the manager of the bakery for the last four. She will be pivotal in keeping the traditional recipes going, whilst also adding new items. Also John Haffner will be around for advice!”
Ted, who will the new managing director of Haffner’s, added: “I’d wanted to run my own business for quite a while now, I’ve been in the insurance industry for 17 years. We were really pleased to be chosen, and I’ve actually been working at Haffner’s for the last nine weeks while the sale went through.
"I’ve worked on every department while I’ve been here, starting with mixing the fillings and it’s been a fantastic learning experience. I’ve got to know all the team and where the pressure points are in the business, and now the sale is complete we can start to really move forward.
"You’d be amazed how far the Haffner’s brand goes – we have a customer from Manchester who comes over three times a week to stock up his shop with 400 pies, and ex-pats all over the world still appreciate a Haffner’s.
"I can’t wait to get started on the social media and new sales channels. We wouldn’t be able to do it without the amazing team behind the scenes – everything is handmade and there’s no mass production, and we want to grow without losing that aspect. We’ve got an excellent team with years of experience, with specialist knowledge in baking and butchery.
"You’ll still get the same superb Haffner’s quality and flavour every time whatever you buy, with the same fantastic, experienced team in the butchers as well as the bakery."