Jinny's Bakery

Sinead Gillard aka Jinny, returned to her native Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim in 1998 to help in the family business, set up by her parents James and Moira McGuire in the 70’s. It comprised of self-catering cottages and a restaurant situated on the shores of Acres Lake. Sinead loved making breads and cakes for the restaurant and in 2003 her best friend convinced her to try selling her bread to the local shops in Drumshanbo. Selling just 16 loaves in her first week did not discourage Sinead from doing what she loved and today Jinny’s bakery produces a range of products supplied to supermarkets such as SuperValu, Centra, Tesco, Gala and Independent retailers among others.

In 2007, Sinead’s husband Pascal joined the business. With his background in Food Science and combined love for quality fresh food, Pascal began to research new opportunities in their sector. Recognising people’s love for baking, they began producing bread mixes which could be easily made at home. “We find people love making the bread at home, especially as children can join in”, said Pascal. The success of the bread mixes has grown steadily and through programmes such as the Grow with Aldi, Jinny’s Stout and Porridge versions can be found across Ireland. Discussing the process of getting into the programme, Pascal recognised the introduction from the Local Enterprise Office Leitrim – “We made our pitch in February, after LEO invited Aldi to meet with a number of Leitrim producers in Carrick on Shannon. It was a wonderful opportunity for us, to once more, access a supermarket chain with a presence throughout the country.”

Jinnys Bakery 2

The access to Aldi was not the only help LEO offered Jinny’s as it rose to the challenges posed by Covid-19. “We got a Trading Online Voucher which helped us develop our website and for a long time now online sales have been crucial,” explained Pascal who managed the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association for seven years. The expansion of its online sales was based on the promise of allowing customers to “send a little bit of Leitrim” to loved ones throughout the country during lockdown, at a time when people were missing home and yearning for a tasty treat. Another support the business availed of was the Green for Micro programme. Looking at key areas of concern for the business, a 5-year plan was developed which brought huge cost savings for the business. “Just by making a plan and working towards it, last year we had savings of almost €9,000 in food waste”, Pascal said.

Like all companies, the pandemic brought major challenges to Jinny’s bakery as they lost many food service clients. “We lost the hotels and cafes we had already been supplying and also lost a lot of potential customers, but being part of the Grow with Aldi campaign coupled with the boost in online sales, saved the day,” said the Drumshanbo based businessman. “We are very grateful to LEO for giving us this opportunity because the national exposure we have got by being in 145 shops is hard to measure”, added Pascal. “We are getting calls from all over the country from people who have tried and loved the bread mixes,” he added. “We got one from a woman who admitted that she had pretended to her boyfriend that she had made the bread from scratch and as the mix was sold out when she went back to Aldi she wanted 10 packets in a hurry, or the game would have been up”.

Pascal feels Jinny’s Bakery have always felt supported by LEO over the years whether through mentoring, financial advice or practical supports when buying equipment. “The Grow with Aldi campaign is just the latest in a long line of ways they have made us examine how we can develop to our best potential and strive for high standards.” Having completed the Green for Micro programme, Pascal is now confident the business can grow sustainably. “I want the bakery business to be here for the next generations. We have been so focused on making the business a success for so long it’s now time to see how we can reduce our carbon footprint.”

For more information on Jinny’s bakery or to view their range of products, visit https://jinnys.ie/