In just a few years, food entrepreneur Paul Hurley has used his unique luxury doughnut recipe to transform a simple idea into a major British startup success story, and is now taking on the growing global market for gourmet doughnuts.
His artisanal baked luxury doughnut brand, Dum Dum Doughnuts, has experienced rapid growth since launching its first “Donutterie”, at Shoreditch’s Boxpark, in London in 2014, and Hurley expects year-on-year sales for 2016 to jump 500 per cent.
Using all-natural ingredients that are significantly lower in fat than competitor doughnut brands, Dum Dum Doughnuts uses modern baking (rather than frying) techniques to create fresh, patisserie-inspired doughnuts of the highest quality.
Although not exactly “healthy”, Dum Dum Doughnuts’ patented baking process, and use of sunflower oil instead of palm oil when cooking, has upgraded the traditional doughnut – removing a lot of the junk while injecting it with a touch of class.
In May 2014, Dum Dum became the only luxury doughnut brand to be sold in Britain’s opulent department store Harrods, and has since opened stores in Camden Market, Croydon’s new Boxpark and, most recently, Brighton.
Business Advice spoke to Hurley to find out more about his plans for the brand, and why he views franchising as the best, most effective way to achieve sustainable growth in a challenging market.
Hurley admitted that his early career experience helped him reach the conclusion that franchising was the correct path to take. After university, he began working for F&B, the company behind Dunkin’ Doughnuts’ UK franchise, working in almost every department of the business over a period of more than 15 years.
“I learnt everything about running a fast-growing company,” he told Business Advice. “After many years I realised there was no one in the world who understood the market as well as me and, together with my business partner, decided to brake away and launch my own venture, striving to produce the best doughnut in the world.”
Franchising, Hurley decided, was the best way to put into action an aggressive rollout plan that has this year seen Dum Dum open its very first international Donutterrie in Dubai, UAE.
The brand has proved popular with expats and locals alike, and eight further stores are due to open in the Middle Eastern country over the next two years, with another new store planned in Qatar in early 2017.
“Franchising is a great way to expand the Dum Dum family and make our delicious doughnuts available to more people throughout the world,” said Hurley.
Getting the product right in the first instance has been key to Dum Dum’s success so far, and Hurley advised any entrepreneur, especially those in food and drink, to make this a priority when starting out.
“We made many mistakes, over a ten-year period, but now we have a product which is very unique,” he explained. “Traditional doughnuts are raised with yeast rather than flour, which is cheaper. We are the only brand with a baked product which still tastes like a doughnut, and they’re all handmade. We wanted to make that jump in product quality from the outset.”
Hurley added that being creative and original with flavours and recipes has also been integral to keeping sales figures high, and customers regularly form long queues outside stores to buy their favoured treat.
Dum Dum flavours are weird and wonderful, including Crême Brûlée, Strawberries and Cream, Banoffee, Almond and Pistachio and top seller “The Zebra’, which contains layers of chocolate croissant dough filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with chocolate ganache.
The brand has therefore already developed its own niche, providing a platform on which to rival global doughnut franchises like Krispy Kreme. Hurley went on to say: “The bigger brands actually help us. We look at the what’s already out there – the doughnuts others are making – and decide how we can fit alongside them.”
It’s this positive attitude to competition that Hurley encourages all other startup founders to employ. “Keep raising the bar on all sides of the business,” he said. “Whatever’s thrown at you, turn it into a positive and remain optimistic, it’s the advice I wish I’d had all along.”
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