Bakery Retail Chain Discovers that Lean Management Is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

The Lean Bakery, now available from Lean Enterprise Institute

Customer expectations and the culture around food are changing. They want to know what goes into the food they eat, and who could blame them?

Weeks after police searched the factory kitchen of 365 café, a chain of 100 bakery shops, looking for a basement hiding illegal immigrants, owners Juan Antonio Tena and his wife, Emi Castro, finally learned the truth behind the nighttime raid.

In The Lean Bakery, just published by the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute, Tena and Castro reveal that a “tip” about the nonexistent basement had come from competitors, convinced that 365’s small commercial kitchen couldn’t possibly supply a chain of retail stores with high-quality products unless it had illegal immigrants hiding underground working 20-hour days.

“Instead, what we had was an amazing system to organize our work – in plain view,” the authors write.

The amazing system, called lean management, is a complete business system that continuously develops people and improves processes to provide more value and prosperity while consuming the fewest possible resources, including raw materials, time, money, space, and human effort.

Start Up to Scale Up

In their succinct, entertaining book the authors explain how they went from starting up to scaling up using lean continuous improvement principles to:

  • Dramatically improve productivity to produce a variety of baguettes, ciabattas, croissants, pastries, sandwiches, and cakes for 100 retail bakery shops around Barcelona, Spain, in a commercial kitchen designed to support 60 to 70.
  • Reduce retail store staffing from three or four people to two in most cases, while improving…

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