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Stillaplace 58 www. bus- ex. com June 09

Gillebagaren AB H omeowners of the world have a lot to thank IKEA for. So too does the Swedish economy in general and the sales figures for Gillebagaren AB in particular, the world's largest manufacturer of Swedish-style oat biscuits. Tramping around a vast furniture showroom can be a tiring business, often rewarded with the purchase of something from the IKEA food shop. Along with roll mops, one of the most popular purchases is a pack of Gille biscuits. Of course, it's not the only way Gille products are exported, but it has played an important role in raising the awareness of the Western world at large of a peculiarly Swedish product. In Swedish, gille is an ancient word for a feast or party where rich items such as buttery biscuits and cookies are served with coffee, tea or other drinks. Pastry cook Tord Einarsson was making such traditional confections for sale through the café he ran, but in 1967 he decided to discontinue the café in favor of a bakery in order to produce high- quality products on a larger scale. The first plant was built in Åsljunga, in the far south of Sweden, not too far from Copenhagen in Denmark. The business was an immediate success, and by the time Einarsson retired 20 years later, the factory was making 2,500 tons of biscuits a year. A second, larger bakery was built in the neighboring town of Örkelljunga. From this base, sales have climbed steadily year on year to the point where current output is 15,000 tons per year. In 2006 Gillebagaren had a turnover of SEK 342 million, June 09 www. bus- ex. com 59 fortradition aplace From a single coffee house to an international brand, oat biscuits have taken Gillebagaren a long way, as Alan Swaby learns