April 25 doesn’t ring a bell with everyone these days. But it’s etched indelibly into the mind of Mike Harfleet.
On the same date in 1915, during the First World War, Australian and New Zealand troops first landed at Gallipoli. Harfleet knows it well, because as managing director of Siro UK, he’s responsible for the sales and distribution of Anzac Biscuits.
The biscuits have a rich history, having been originally baked by the mothers, wives and sweethearts of Australian soldiers sent to fight in Gallipoli in the First World War.
Today, Unibic, the brand’s Melbourne-based supplier, maintains the tradition of supporting the forces.
It donates 4% of annual sales generated by the biscuits to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.
And in Australia, sales of Anzac Biscuits have raised $A300,000 for the Returned Servicemen’s Appeal.
As one of the most important times in the company’s calendar approaches, Harfleet has found himself increasingly busy. “Last week I was involved in some of the preparations in the run up to Anzac Day,” he says. “The Anzac memorial dawn service is taking place on
Sunday 25 April at Hyde Park Corner. I have been liaising with the Australian High Commission regarding supplying Anzac Biscuits for refreshments after the service.”
Other than that, he says he has focused most of his time on clinching further listings for the brand following its launch in Sainsbury in July.
“I spend around 70% of my time office based and about 30% on the road, travelling to meet existing and potential customers.
“The hardest thing is trying to secure time with buyers. I think they would probably need to work a 48-hour day to see suppliers as much as they would like.
“So far, sales in Sainsbury are going great. Of course listings in other multiples would help to boost fundraising efforts.”