Keeping it in the family

Kay and Ross in the early days: The business was bought from John and Helga Ribstein in 1990, when the central operation was still in Albury.

Kay and Ross in the early days: The business was bought from John and Helga Ribstein in 1990, when the central operation was still in Albury.

Valentines Bakehouse is a local family business run by siblings Harry, Joe and Matilda Perry, with input from their parents Kay and Ross Perry.

Kay and Ross had bought the business back in 1990, and when they were looking to sell in 2016 to concentrate on their local winery instead, Harry went to his siblings with the idea that they would take it on and keep it in the family.

Harry concentrates his efforts on growing and promoting the business, while Joe is applying everything his father taught him and more in the bakery itself. Matilda looks after HR and finances and the team cohesion between the siblings surprises many people.

Meanwhile Ross still offers much guidance and Harry strongly credits him with pushing the latest reconstruction forward, while Kay still pitches in to help Matilda with staff onboarding and training.

Original delivery van with Ross and Harry: The current Perry generation effectively grew up in the original bakehouse in Albury.

Original delivery van with Ross and Harry: The current Perry generation effectively grew up in the original bakehouse in Albury.

Looking further back in time, the business was originally purchased from John and Helga Ribstein. John was a master German baker and he taught Ross the traditional German process of sourdough baking. This was quite uncommon at that time, but over the years the general population has grown to know and love sourdough for the great creation it is.

Another important point is the bakehouse was located in Pembroke Arcade in central Albury at the time.

The name changed in 1991 from John and Helgas to Valentines Bakehouse and things grew from there.

The Rutherglen site was previously operating as the Black Dog Bakery. Ross and Kay purchased it in about 2012 and decided to move their production out to Rutherglen, and service their other stores from there. This is still what occurs today, albeit with a substantially increased capacity now.

As they grew up, Harry, Joe and Matilda all went off and completed their respective studies. Harry went to Bathurst, Joe to Manly, and Matilda to Wollongong.

Harry, as the eldest, even began establishing his own bakery coffee shops with the first Barista Baker and Brewer in Yarrawonga in 2013. He also began roasting coffee under the brand White Owl Coffee, and further expanded with more BBB sites in Albury and Wodonga.

The Perry family now: Kay at the front left with the grandchild on her lap, then Ross, Joe, Harry and wife Micaela, and Matilda. Photos: Supplied.

The Perry family now: Kay at the front left with the grandchild on her lap, then Ross, Joe, Harry and wife Micaela, and Matilda. Photos: Supplied.

In 2016, Ross and Kay decided to retire from baking so that they could turn their attention to Olive Hills Estate, the local winery they run near Rutherglen.

Harry saw the potential to expand and approached both his siblings who had by now graduated themselves and were working in the corporate world. The Perry Group was formed and on October 1, 2016 the three siblings jointly acquired Valentines Bakehouse, the Barista Baker Brewer and White Owl Coffee.

Meanwhile Kay and Ross are still very involved as their mentors.

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