Maison Therese is a business and brand that spans three generations, more than four decades, and countless challenges. Nowadays, Monique Bradshaw and daughters Emma and Kate are breathing new life into the company.
In an age where there’s disconnect between generations and family businesses sometimes struggle to make the transition from one generation to the next, Maison Therese stands out as a shining example of continuity.
Here is a business and brand that spans three generations, and counting. One that has stayed true to its founding principles and yet adapted well to change.
The origins of Maison Therese date back to 1957 when Therese Mooren and husband Paul immigrated to New Zealand from Holland.
The problem was, Oma (grandma) couldn’t find the pickled onions she’d grown up with back home. So being a resourceful woman, she whipped up her family’s traditional recipe of pickled onions and gherkins in her Hawke’s Bay kitchen, using fresh produce.
It was a sell-out success at her childrens’ school gala, and with locals too, and Maison Therese was born.
Therese’s daughter, Monique, started helping in the business when she was still at high school, which is when she learnt to make her mother’s recipes. She knew the products were good, and had the skills to bring in new recipes such as the famous beetroot relish – try them, test them, and put them to market under the Maison Therese brand.
Then it was the turn of the third generation – Monique’s daughters Emma and Kate – to make a contribution.
“We watched our parents and grandmother work so hard for the company, so coming to work in the business seven years ago was a proud moment for me,” recalls Emma, who is now the company’s sales and marketing manager. “My sister Kate came in three years ago and it’s now a great team because we all live and breathe the business.”
The Maison Therese business has come a long way since pickling onions in Therese’s kitchen, says Emma.
“We moved into the current Hawke’s Bay factory in 1984, which we recently expanded. All our products are still handmade, and we source as much as possible from the passionate growers in Hawke’s Bay – the ‘food bowl’ of
Diversification has been the name of the game in recent years.
“We are no longer only known as the ‘Pickle Experts’ but more ‘The Home of Artistic Preserves’,” says Emma. “However, what’s not changed with growth is the integrity of the products and the strong value we hold in ensuring the high quality of our hand-made products.
“Everything we make is free from preservatives and additives.”
While Therese Mooren has no direct involvement in the company any more, respect is still the glue that binds the three generations, and keeps the business thriving. And it helps that Monique and her two daughters get on so well.
Kate Bradshaw, the youngest family member in the business says, “Mum has given so much time to Maison Therese, without her we would have no products to sell.
“Therefore we hold a deep sense of loyalty and respect to both Mum and our grandparents who made Maison Therese what it is today.
“However, being the younger generation it’s only fair we bring a renewed energy to embrace the current challenges of business and commit to growing our brand further.
“In terms of allocating responsibilities, we like to bounce around ideas or discuss issues with each other. But, in saying that, we all have different strengths and thereby manage different areas of the business.
“Mum oversees anything to do with production, procurement, new product development, and looks after our amazing team – having been in the business since she was a teenager she has the most experience in this.
“Emma manages all key retail accounts and export sales which plays to her strength in marketing management, and I handle foodservice sales as well as admin.”
Sales and marketing initiatives
In order to grow the brand, the decision was made to put more sales reps on the road.
“This has been invaluable as it puts us 100 percent in control of our own entity,” explains Emma. “The brand gets 100 percent of the time and attention that’s needed for our products to firstly gain strong distribution, and secondly be well represented on shelf.”
To optimise supermarket sales of the relishes and chutneys, the strategy has included establishing the right everyday price point, running special promotional campaigns, holding in-store tastings, and investing in ‘end-of-aisle’ displays (in conjunction with promotions).
“As a result of these initiatives, we’ve seen a significant increase in sales and definitely a positive impact on brand awareness,” says Emma.
“Gaining entry to Countdown was a milestone in terms of sales volume and brand exposure,” she adds.
Maintaining headway in such a competitive market sector requires a no-compromise policy in quality, sticking to reasonable price points; focusing on service delivery; and keeping an eye on expenditure.
“Anticipation is paramount too. Always watch the market, identify trends and develop the product range accordingly.”
History in the business has provided some valuable lessons for all – particularly around the need for diversification. By dividing the business into Supermarkets, Corporate Gift Market, Foodservice and Export risk is spread and vulnerability mitigated.
It’s important to embrace challenges, she says. “Tough times and hard decisions encourage lateral thinking, expand potential and create new opportunities.
“We surround ourselves with like-minded people, build a strong team culture, and ask lots of questions – they’re a shortcut to finding answers.”
“We regard the three ‘Ps’ as critical to achieving business success: Patience, Persistence and Perseverance.”
Making their mark
Going forward Emma and Kate are keen to keep stamping their mark on the brand and the family business.
Maison Therese has a presence in Australia, Singapore and has new export opportunities in sight.
However, growing the brand in New Zealand is a constant priority. “Whilst we embrace and action overseas enquiries we are committed to meeting and delivering on the continual growth within our domestic market,” says Emma.
Meanwhile the extended family spends a lot of time together and love life in Hawke’s Bay.
“And now there’s a fourth generation too,” says Emma, “as my brothers and sisters start their own families.”