The Donut King of Townsville

Mick Bulley never set out to be the Donut King of Townsville but he’s more than happy to wear the crown.

Having recently bought his seventh Donut King franchise, Mick counts the support from Parent company, Retail Food Group (ASX: RFG) as the main reason for his continued success.

“The professional and all-encompassing level of support that RFG offers its Franchise Partners enabled my business to reach its full potential,” said Mick.

“They provide everything from training programs and modern shop fit-outs to staff uniforms and marketing support.”

“The other catalyst for my success is the variety of product available, from new and exciting donut offerings and premium quality espresso coffee to hotdogs and a full range of quake shakes,” he continued.

Humble Beginnings

A baker by trade, Mick and his wife opened Tropical Donuts, a small store in their local Townsville shopping district in the early ‘90s but it wasn’t the life they had imagined for themselves.

“By 2003 I owned four independent Tropical Donuts Shops in shopping centres around Townsville. We were making a modest amount each week and believed we were good operators, but we were working more than 60 hours a week”, he said.

“It was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life, I had to wear so many different hats that I couldn’t stop to focus on just running the business the way I wanted to. We worked for 12 years without a single holiday and still just made enough each week to cover wages,” Mick explains.

A Lifestyle Choice

Becoming a Donut King Franchise Partner not only gave Mick the business support and guidance he needed, it afforded him a lifestyle that meant family time and annual holidays were no longer things that other people enjoyed.

When Mick and his wife made the decision to buy into the Donut King brand, they closed one store, sold another and converted the remaining two stores to Donut King.

“Our first-year growth at Castletown was 85 percent with an 8 percent decline in Cost of Goods. Our Annandale store had an 87 percent growth in the first year with a similar decline in Cost of Goods. This increase in sales coupled with the decrease in Cost of Goods massively increased our profit from day one and our working week decreased by more than 20 hours,” he said.

Mick is now free to run his business the way he had envisaged when he first opened Tropical Donuts in the early ‘90s.

“The reason I went into business all those years ago hasn’t changed for me, I wanted to prove that you can be successful and still provide a culture of fairness and support for your staff,” he said.

But the journey hasn’t been all ‘smooth sailing’ as Mick explains,

“We initially struggled because we had no idea how to negotiate a lease and the size of a shop, which led to too much area and higher rents.

In more recent times we didn’t lift our prices high enough to cover the natural increases in Cost of Goods and wages as well as the GST.

And in the last decade, there was a period of unrest within RFG that put us under some pressure. We’ve moved on from that time and now and with new management in place we were well positioned to respond to COVID-19.

When the pandemic first struck in March, we had to close one of our stores and cut back on others. However, RFG negotiated rental abatement and froze some of our franchise payments, which meant we survived a very tough period.

We now employ more than 100 staff across the seven stores. And during our 15 plus years with Donut King, have employed more than 1000 young people, teaching them vital skills that they’ll use throughout their careers,” said Mick.

When asked the secret to his success, Mick puts it down to one critical observation,

“Donut King has mass appeal, our customers range in age from 2 to 72, we have something to offer everyone.

“Our affordable product lines and low entry costs make the business attractive for existing partners to expand but also prospective new franchise partners to put their first store on the ground.

I’d recommend a Donut King franchise to anyone considering going into business for themselves.”