January/February 2023Previous Issues

The Rewards of Resales: Bimbo Canada

Two recent Bimbo Canada franchisees on purchasing their business through a franchise resale

By Joelle Kidd

Canada’s largest and oldest bakery started as Canada Bread, but after being acquired by Grupo Bimbo in 2014, it now falls under the banner of Bimbo Canada. Whatever the name, the business has been going strong for more than 110 years, producing and distributing more than 1,000 products across 18 brands including Dempster’s, Bon Matin, Villaggio, Stonemill, and POM.

These quality products, strong distribution networks, and relationships with major Canadian retailers mean franchisees can step right into the business with the support of longstanding national brands behind them.

This is one of the many benefits of choosing franchising for an aspiring entrepreneur. But prospective franchisees may also be wondering whether to invest in a new franchise or purchase a ‘resale’—an existing business sold by the current franchisee. Here, Franchise Canada shares the stories of two Bimbo Canada franchisees who purchased their business in the past year through a resale.

Ranvir Sohi, St. John’s, NL

A little over a year ago, Ranvir Sohi was living in India, working at an agricultural equipment company. Today, Sohi is a proud business owner in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, where he runs two Bimbo Canada franchises. It’s a big transition, but one that’s gone smoothly for Sohi. “I really like it here,” he says of Canada.

Sohi moved to Canada in 2021 so that his wife could continue her studies. He got a job working for a Bimbo Canada franchisee as a driver, and when his employer decided to sell the business, he asked if Sohi wanted to buy it.

“I said, ‘Yes, I’m really loving my job and I want to be part of the Bimbo Canada franchise network,’ so I bought my franchise from him,” says Sohi. “It has been really good so far.”

The resale process made going from an employee of a franchisee to independent business owner an easy transition for Sohi. “I was used to the work … and [my employer] said, ‘I believe in you, you will do great,’” Sohi remembers. “So I said, ‘yes, this is my chance, I should grab it now.’”

Already familiar with the route and the ins and outs of the business, Sohi was confident he could manage the franchise’s day-to-day operations. To find out more about the franchise’s finances and do his due diligence, Bimbo Canada provided all the material details of the business—how much revenue the franchise is making, how many stores it delivers to, number of stops and kilometres along the route, expenses, and more—and a franchise disclosure document, which contains all the information a prospective franchisee needs to know about the business and its prior performance.

Sohi’s familiarity with the business gave him confidence in buying the franchise, but he notes that Bimbo Canada was also very supportive as a franchisor.

“They’re really helpful,” he says, noting that the company offers finance plans for a range of down payments. Sohi recommends working for a current franchisee or distributor to make sure it’s a good fit. He says those interested in a Bimbo Canada franchise must have driver experience, meet licensing and safety regulations, must have their own truck, and, importantly, be an earlymorning person.

A typical day on Sohi’s Bimbo Canada route means waking up around 3:00 a.m. After sorting the products and loading the trucks, franchisees and distributors go out on the road to make deliveries stock merchandise, ending around 12:30 or 1 p.m. Sohi’s routes have between 12 and 18 stops, he says.

The benefits of owning his own franchise rather than working as an employee have been huge, he notes. “Firstly, my revenue—I’m making really good money with this now, as compared to [when I was] an employee. And now I have a secure business.”

Since stores rely on Bimbo Canada’s deliveries of quality bakery and snack products, the business was designated an essential service and never shut down during COVID lockdowns, Sohi says. In fact, when shutdowns closed boat service to an island on their route, the government provided the previous franchisee with helicopter service to make deliveries.

“I’m enjoying the franchise system,” Sohi says. “I feel more secure [than I would] with an independent business.” He’s even snapped up a second franchise.

The two businesses are keeping him busy, though he still has an eye toward the future. “If I might get a chance to grow my business, I will grab it, but now I’m going to give some time to just two franchises.”

But he’s had lots of interest in the business from friends and family members, he adds. “I always recommend that they become part of the Bimbo Canada network. [It’s] a lot of work, but it pays off at the end of the day.”

Bud Singh Gill, Winnipeg, MB

New Bimbo Canada franchisee Bud Singh Gill bought his franchise at the end of September 2022. The first months have been a whirlwind, but he’s happy to own his own business. “It gives you freedom—you’re your own employer, you can do your own thing,” Singh Gill says.

Singh Gill originally went to school for mechanical engineering but had trouble finding work in his field. After moving to Winnipeg, Manitoba from Ontario in 2017, he got into the trucking industry, first working as an office administrator, and then driving long haul. After a few years, he was looking for a change. “I wanted to change my lifestyle, stay more in the city, and keep myself physically and mentally fit,” he says.

Researching businesses for sale brought Singh Gill to Bimbo Canada. “I knew starting something from scratch, something new, would be a little too much for a first-timer,” he explains. When he found a franchised business opportunity through a resale, it was a perfect fit. “For a first-timer I think buying through a resale is a better option, because I could work with the previous owner, look through his day-to-day plan and how he managed the business, and [become] quite familiar with the operation.”

In fact, Singh Gill was able to work with the previous franchise owner for a month to get used to the ins and outs of running the business.

From the first meeting to signing on the dotted line, the process of buying the business took about three or four months, Singh Gill recalls. He and his brother, who provided some accounting services, looked through the previous owner’s financial statements. “When I was confident that, yes, it’s a profitable business, then I did all the paperwork,” he recalls. This involved an application with Bimbo Canada, including a credit check, licenses, and other documents. “Once the documentation was complete, they had a trainer that [helped me] for three weeks. After that, I was a new franchisee.”

Taking on a new business for the first time is a challenge, Singh says. “The first couple weeks I was thinking, ‘oh man, what have I got myself into?’ I was doing the easier things the harder way and making myself some longer days […] but now I’ve figured it out and cracked the code.”

A typical day for Singh Gill starts in the early morning, when he arrives at the warehouse to pick up his wares. His part-time employee builds the load for the day, and they load it onto the truck. He gets to his first stop around five or six a.m. His route, which takes him around Winnipeg and southern Manitoba, includes stops at Walmart, Sobeys and Safeway locations, and Co-op grocery stores, as well as drop-offs at restaurants like A&W, Dairy Queen, and Smitty’s.

Another challenge for any franchisee is the upfront financial investment. In Singh Gill’s case, buying a resale helped ease the financial transition. “It’s a lot of money to start a franchise […] I went to a few banks, and they wouldn’t give me loans because it’s a bigger amount,” he recalls.

His brother was able to chip in, helping him with a partial down payment. But luckily, Singh Gill was able to negotiate a loan with the previous owner of his franchise. “Instead of paying a lump sum, I took a loan from him. So I’m paying him in installments, which actually helped me a lot [since] the interest rate is so high right now—he offered me a loan at a lower interest rate [than the bank].”

Singh Gill’s business is fresh, but he’s already finding it rewarding. “I don’t have to work under somebody, no one’s giving me orders,” he says. The business is solid, and he owns his own truck.

Asked if he has any advice for prospective franchisees, Singh Gill notes the importance of doing your research. “I would say it takes a bit of courage to get into business, and it’s not easy. But my advice for someone who is looking to buy a franchise is, […] just do your homework, see if it’s beneficial, and once you think it is, go for it.”

“I won’t lie, initially, it will be hard work. You’ll have to be responsible. But it’s rewarding for sure.”