Spokane Journal of Business

HearthBread lands contract to distribute Sara Lee breads

Company looks to hire up to 15 people as result of new $25 million deal

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HearthBread BakeHouse Inc., of Spokane, says it has landed a $25 million contract with Sara Lee Corp. to distribute that companys products in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The five-year contract is expected to double HearthBreads annual revenues, says Larry Condon, its general manager. The 10-year-old company currently employs 65 people and is looking at hiring up to 15 more workers to handle the additional workload, he says.

Under the agreement, which goes into effect next month, HearthBread will distribute Downers Grove, Ill.-based Sara Lees commercial breads baked elsewhere, including pan loaves, buns, and other products, to grocery stores across the region, Condon says. Currently, Fred Meyer Stores is the only chain in this market that sells Sara Lees fresh bread products, he says.

Its like the nations biggest bread company joining forces with the smallest, he says, adding, They really want to hit the Northwest.

HearthBread bakes a variety of its own breads in product lines such as Coeur dAlene French and breads made with Shepherds Grain, which consists of wheat thats been locally grown through environmentally-friendly methods, Condon says. Sales to restaurants constitute about 65 percent of its revenues, with the balance coming from retail outlets. The contract with Sara Lee, though, will quadruple its overall retail business, he says. The agreement includes options to extend the contract beyond five years.

Were using it as a supplement to increase our distribution network, Condon says. This will double, and in some cases triple, our sales per route.

In anticipation of the space it will need as a result of the increased business, the company a few months ago added 6,000 square feet of space to the distribution area in its 22,000-square-foot building, at 220 E. Jackson, he says.

The Coeur dAlene Tribe bought majority ownership of HearthBread about 15 months ago, which has given it an infusion of money to help it expand its operations, he says.

Contact Emily Proffitt at (509) 344-1265 or via e-mail at emilyp@spokanejournal.com.

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