Today, the company sells over one million pies each month and, in addition to the 230 people it employs across its own business, it has created jobs more than 2 000 people through its franchisees.

This is the achievement of which Wayne Duncan, chief executive of Durban based Retsol which owns the brand, is most proud.

Amazingly, when Retsol bought Corner Bakery in 2007, Duncan says it was “a franchise by name only” with no franchisees. It started out in 2010 with no outlets.

In terms of a management agreement with Engen, outlets were to be established on Engen service station forecourts. These would be owned by the Engen franchisees who ran the service stations.

Since then, the number of stores has grown exponentially. The majority of South African stores are along the West and East Coast with just over 60 inland. The first 250 stores were opened during the first two to three years.

Corner Bakery has since ventured beyond South African borders and has 65 stores spread across Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Reunion and Mauritius. Next year, Retsol will add stores in DRC and Gabon and expects to take the total store count across the entire African continent to close to 600.

Corner Bakery’s turnover growth has averaged 20 percent year on year and Duncan is confident that the franchise will continue to register double digit growth for the foreseeable future. “We are growing sales aggressively. So far, growth has been organic. Revenue has come through the existing market as well as product innovation,” he explains.

Corner Bakery has a vertically integrated supply chain and has factories in Cape Town and Durban. A Johannesburg factory is expected to open early next year.

Gary Milne, managing director of Corner Bakery, says that the service station forecourt market is an exciting and unique retail environment and hence a networked solution is important. That means that there’s a need for standardising products. However, although the core product category is pies which is particularly well suited to and in demand at service stations, additional products have been added.