Here we will be updating you with wonderful stories on what we do away from the bakery, our community projects, stories and uplifting news from Red Lion Bakery

Taped May 2018

Aired March 2019

Posted on Friday April 24, 2020 by Mohamed J. Bah

Bread industry flourish during COVID-19

The manager and proprietor of the Red Lion Bakery Michelle V. Jones, has told Awoko that despite the coronavirus in the country, she is now experiencing more sales in bread than before. Madam Jones has increased her production and also recruited some more staff to match up with the huge demand for bread from the public. “The coronavirus is not affecting us that much, as we are having a lot of sales now” she said. She added that people are now buying bread and storing them in preparation for the next lockdown. She told this medium that ahead of the previous lockdown, they had to seek the assistance of police to control the huge crowd in their shop, who wanted to buy bread. Even though the Owner and Manager of Salvonne Bakery Madam Yvonne Hamilton admitted to have sold more bread ahead of the lockdown, she however highlighted her challenges during this COVID- 19 period. She said since the corona outbreak hit the shores of Sierra Leone, it has seriously affected her business leading to a drop in production along with slow sales. She explained that prices for nearly all of the ingredients used in the production of bread have been increased by the business people, and this has put them in a precarious situation to keep the business running. “Sugar, flour, butter and yeast, all of their prices have been increased by the business people but the major problem we are having currently is packet water, which we buy on a daily basis and it is hard to get now. We aren’t using the tap water to process bread.” She added that since Sierra Leone is not currently producing flour, the price of flour before now was Le 235,000 but currently it is between Le265,000 to Le275,000, whilst the price for sugar was Le 235,000 but it is now being sold for Le 360,000. She said they experienced a mad rush for bread by customers ahead of the lockdown and urged Government to reduce the prices of sugar and flour in the market ahead of the Ramadan period. Abdulai Jalloh owns a Bakery at Dworzack. He maintained that the night curfew instituted by the government is on the verge of killing his business. He said they used to start to bake around 4am, but that is no longer possible now due to the curfew. “We are now having challenges to supply our morning customers because we have also adjusted our timing to match with the curfew. He said “business is currently bad for me and my colleagues, we used to bake two bags of flour for both morning and afternoon production but that is not happening now due to the curfew.” He said the shops and market women they used to supply have also cut down on their intake whilst others have stopped their business for the time being due to the night curfew. “People need bread but the time is not enough for us to work and for them to sell.”

Posted on Friday December 04, 2015

Over 70 years in Operation …Red Lion Bakery bounces back

One of the most successful indigenous family businesses in Sierra Leone spanning over 70 years have unveiled new sets of bread for the market produced by an automated system in a clean environment.
Management of the bread business has been passed through the Ashwood family hands since 1944, now it is being managed by the grandchildren Cyril Grant and Michelle Jones who took up the business as co-ownership and management of the Bakery in 2015.
According to Cyril Grant the bakery has been transformed to modern standards to meet the growing demands of the market.
He said they have spent over US$300,000 to procure state of the art; new machines and they have also installed state of the art technologies.
The newly installed machines includes, mixer, cutter and dryer and they have also procured a generator because currently electricity provided by the National grid is inadequate to operate the machines.
Red Lion Bakery has also improved on their services with the opening of a website so as to interact with customers, distributors and others.
Most of the ingredients used to produce and bake the bread are procured from the local market.
He said they had to close the bakery sometime last year to restructure management and production with the view to improving the quality of the bread.
Michelle Jones also a co-owner of the bakery said they have significantly improved on the production and management of the business to ensure customer satisfaction is guaranteed.
Before the closure of the business she said Red Lion Bakery had 16 outlets in Freetown mostly in Western Area and one in the East end of Freetown.
The bakery she said now produces 3,262 loaves of bread comprising of butter bread, big sweet, small sweet, fresh and hamburger bread. Presently she said they are operating a two shift system with over thirty staff as bakers and distributors.
She also said that they will be introducing new specialty of bread in the market which include malt, brown, pita and baguettes bread. She also disclosed that a special bread will be produced for diabetic patients.
On the question of the current competition in the market, she affirmed that Red Lion Bakery has its own brand and customers are always ready to consume their products because of the quality of the bread.
She said since they started production few days ago there has not been much left over bread and if there is any they will be donated to the Juvenile Detention Center and inmates of the correctional center.

By Gemma Ware in Freetown
Posted on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 12:43

New links in the value chain

Returning members of the diaspora and local businessmen are injecting much-needed investment into the country’s weak private sector

Founded in 1948, the Red Lion Bakery still does busy trade selling bread in and around Freetown. It is one of the last of the old guard, and most of the well-known indigenous brands have since shrunk or faded away. Now, the country’s private sector is showing new signs of life, led by a wave of returnees from the diaspora and local business owners.

Dragon Transport, a Freetown-based trading and logistics company, started operations in August 2010. Its agents buy basic produce and transport it from the farm to the market in three refrigerated trucks. Highly perishable goods require refrigeration and without it farmers are not incentivised to produce because so much is wasted. Middlemen also take large cuts. “It’s bad news for our farmers. They have no leverage and they get a very small percentage of the final sales price,” said Dragon Transport’s managing director, Modupe Taylor-Pearce.

A graduate of West Point Military Academy in the US, Taylor-Pearce returned to Sierra Leone to fight in the war and was shot twice. He left to work in the US but decided to return with his family last year. Alongside Dragon Transport and a uniform company run mainly by his wife, Taylor-Pearce is also setting up an amphibious transport business called Salma Watabus, which is due to begin trips from Lungi airport to Freetown this April.

Last year Dragon Transport received $1.1m of investment from ManoCap, a CDC-backed private equity fund. “There’s more opportunity than we’ve been able to take advantage of,” said ManoCap director Tom Cairnes. It has invested $15m in Sierra Leone so far, with plans for another $7m in 2011.?The toll of war still weighs heavily on the business world. “If you lose 10 years, you have a dearth of middle- management talent, which is a real barrier,” says Cairnes, who admits much of the firm’s day-to-day business is in crisis management.

Undeterred, a number of other diaspora returnees have been busy setting up small enterprises. Mantie Cole has set up the Kidszone, a centre for ‘edutainment’ in Freetown, while Karefa Kargbo has opened Shangri La, a restaurant and jazz lounge along the Lumley Beach Road in Freetown.

Kargbo is part of a local push to rebuild the tourism industry. In the 1980s there were hardly any Sierra Leoneans running hotels, says Cecil Williams, general manager of the Sierra Leone tourist board. “Now, Sierra Leoneans are reducing the Lebanese dominance in the tourism sector.” Local entrepreneurs are rejuvenating three boutique resorts – Tokey Beach, Eden Park and Lakka Cotton Club – and Wilfred Sam-King is leading a $2m investment in the Taia Resort Hotel on Lumley beach.

Today’s entrepreneurs are also receiving better business support. Business Bomba, a donor-funded business plan competition run by the African Foundation for Development in Sierra Leone, is now in its second year. It will announce 20 new winners in late April.