Blending businesses together is like baking bread: the timing and the chemistry have to be just right.
For Alexandria, Ontario-based Lanthier Bakery and France’s La Fournée Dorée, the formula looked very promising in 2015 when the pair decided to merge – an alliance forged with help from accounting and advisory firm BDO Canada.
Working closely with Lanthier and La Fournée Dorée, BDO helped the two companies sort through the challenges associated with a multinational merger, ensuring the French corporation could establish itself in Canada.
Selling various products under the La Fournée Dorée brand, the acquisition has turned Lanthier Bakery into one of the leading brioche bread makers in North America, setting the company up for continued growth.
Mathieu St-Denis, BDO’s National Capital and Eastern Ontario tax service line leader, recalls how the bakery buyout started as a typical business referral, then blossomed into a deeper, long-standing relationship with Lanthier Bakery, and BDO.
“We’re a bilingual firm and the owners of La Fournée Dorée needed somebody who could speak French and help them navigate the complexities of an international business deal,” said St-Denis. “Ultimately, as the partnership grew, we shared a passion for trying to do something innovative in the baking industry.”
Lanthier Bakery president Marc Lanthier was involved from the outset and immediately felt that his three-generations-old family business was in trustworthy hands.
“La Fournée Dorée are full owners of the bakery now but we continue to work with Mathieu and BDO,” said Lanthier. “Mathieu worked with both sides and helped us bridge the gap, especially in understanding taxation. BDO had the right mix of local leadership and national and global expertise to navigate the rules and regulations of [operating and selling] in multiple countries.”
The acquisition was only the beginning. BDO has played a key role throughout the company’s growth, assisting in areas such as advisory mandates, seeking financing, liaising with government, legal referrals, and being a trusted advisor
“It’s kind of amazing, for Marc and Lanthier Bakery, selling the business to La Fournée Dorée wasn’t the end of a journey, but rather the beginning of something special,” said St-Denis. “And our work with the team evolved way beyond the traditional accounting services people would think about.”
Prepping for the future
With continued advisory and accounting help from BDO and a revamp of Lanthier’s facilities in Alexandria and Montreal, the modernized bakery was soon ready to introduce innovative new products. From the bread itself, to the way it was marketed, this was a new start for Lanthier.
Today, the business solely produces brioche products, including loaves, buns, baguettes, and rolls – with more new items potentially on the way. The popular La Fournée Dorée hamburger buns that suddenly appeared in local Eastern Ontario stores a few years ago are now sold across North America, and the brand recently achieved $100 million in North American sales after five consecutive years of 100 per cent growth.
Bringing the third largest brioche baker in the world to Canada definitely meant access to a different level of buying power, added Lanthier.
“We even saw growth during the pandemic,” he noted. “The timing was right for something new and innovative in baking. The baguette wave happened, the wraps, all those waves in bread came over the last 40 years and now we’re riding the top of the brioche wave.”
Lanthier Bakery is about to celebrate its 90th anniversary in Alexandria this October.
“Ten years ago we were at a crossroads as a traditional bakery,” said Lanthier. “The opportunity to work with an international partner in La Fournée Dorée, and to work with Mathieu and the BDO team to execute on this plan has allowed us to innovate into a company that will be here for another 90 years.”