Hospitality Business Magazine

Palmerston North’s Muffin Break takes out top prize



Franchisee of the Year winner, Shirley Buxton and team.

Shirley Buxton’s Palmerston North based Muffin Break franchise has won the group’s 2016  New Zealand Franchisee of The Year Award.

Her store, located in The Plaza Shopping Centre, takes the annual accolade from among the 40 Muffin Break bakery cafes operating in New Zealand.

Shirley owns two Muffin Break franchises – the other is based on the Kapiti Coast – and employs close to 30 people across both operations.

The Muffin Break Franchisee of The Year Award for New Zealand was presented at a function in Melbourne held by parent company, Foodco. Shirley’s franchise received a first prize of $10,000 cash with runner-up prizes going to Muffin Break Lambton Square and Muffin Break Upper Hutt, who each received $3,000.

The award reflects strong commitment from Shirley’s team, a factor that has  been instrumental in achieving strong growth, she says.

“Really our Palmerston North team is so committed, they treat the business as if it is their own and they know our customers so well and greet them personally,” according to Shirley. “Add to that the fantastic location in The Plaza in central Palmerston North and the recipe is a winner.”

More familiar in territory sales, Shirley has no previous hospitality experience and admits she was initially nervous going in to a food business. However, she felt very well supported as Foodco provides the ongoing training and support to help with the transition.

“Being part of a successful franchise chain such as Muffin Break simply removes some of those tricky pain points so you can focus on what’s going on in the store and on your people and your customers.”

Shirley has owned the Palmerston North store since 2010, shifting within The Plaza in 2012, a move she says has provided the business with a “fantastic location”. Previously she had cut her franchise teeth on a Kapiti Coast Muffin Break which she bought in 2008.

Muffin Break National Operations Manager, Jon Hassall says the Palmerston North store is a “shining light” among the brand’s local operations.

“There is fierce competition for the Franchise of the Year title,” Jon says. “With a large number of franchisees throughout the country excelling in sales, customer growth and overall performance”.

“However, Shirley and her team clearly demonstrated why they deserved the title revealing stunning growth and a café-full of happy customers.”