Our People

We employ hundreds of wonderful people covering every aspect of our business. Whether they work at the bakery crafting our products, in our stores or at head office, each and every one of them is considered part of the Plarre Foods family.

Our Board

Steve Plarre, Director & CEO

Steve was appointed CEO of Plarre Foods Group in July 2012. He’s a 4th generation Aussie retailer and the leader of a business that has now navigated two World Wars, two pandemics, The Great Depression and his own multi-generational family challenges. After overseeing the buyout of the Ferguson family in 2012 he’s helped rebuild the family brand to become an award-winning, sustainable business that now boasts over 85 stores across Victoria with a strong focus on profitability & growth. Steve & his brother Mike work closely & have diversified the business into new channels to help future-proof the 4th generation family baking dynasty. Together they’ve strengthened the governance of the business with the appointment of two non-executive Directors & an independent Chair. Steve spent 9 years on the Council of the Australian Retailers Association, is a member of multiple CEO roundtables & was awarded Australian Franchise Executive of the Year in 2020.

Mike Plarre, Director & General Manager Manufacturing

Mike Plarre is a 4th generation baker and operates the Plarre manufacturing bakehouse. He is an owner & Director of the Plarre Foods board. Following in the footsteps of founder & great grandfather Otto Plarre, Mike is a hands-on pastry chef with a demonstrated ability to create premium hand-crafted baked goods at scale. He designed and built the Plarre bakery, one of Australia’s most sustainable and was officially recognised for this in 2009, taking out the coveted Gold Banksia Award for business sustainability. Having spent time working in bakeries in the USA & travelling to Europe to view best in class manufacturing, he is passionate about learning and innovation. Mike works closely with his brother Steve as they build the next generation of family baked success.

Rod Douglas, Chairman

Rod is an experienced company director with a specialisation in working with owner led businesses which he has built over the last 30 years. He focuses strongly on culture, strategy and organisational value through a governance lens. Rod’s broad experience covers property, financial services, professional services, agriculture, retail and marketing. He is a director of Shine Justice Ltd as well as a number of private companies, and chairs the advisory board for 2 significant family businesses.

A proud shareholder in Plarre Foods, Rod has supported the Plarre family for over 12 years, with a passionate commitment to baking you happy!

Rod holds a Master of Business Administration from Bond University, is a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a Vincent Fairfax Fellow in Ethical Leadership.

David Bayes, Non-Executive Director

David is a Non-Executive Director of Shine Corporate Ltd (SHJ) and is the recent past President of the Victoria Council, Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). He has over 35 years’ experience in multi-outlet retail and franchise businesses and has held a variety of board and executive positions including former Chief Executive Officer of Choice Hotels Australasia, Chief Operating Officer of Mortgage Choice, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Bakers Delight, former Non – Executive Director of Sigma Healthcare Ltd (SIG), former Non – Executive Director of The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and Chiquita Brands South Pacific Ltd, former Non – Executive Director of North Western Healthcare Network and former Vice President and Director of McDonald’s Australia.

Executive Team

Judd Sandwell, Chief Operating Officer

Judd joined Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses in 2018 to lead the retail arm of the business as Chief Operating Officer. Judd has extensive experience in FMCG Sales with Coca-Cola Amatil where he started at the ground level and over a 7 year period worked his way through the business to hold one of the top level management positions in Western Australia. Judd has also held senior management positions within a number of large brands such as Nando’s Australia where he operated as the Regional General Manager for Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory and later taking on Victoria and Tasmania whist the Nando’s business underwent an extensive period of investment and growth. Prior to joining Ferguson Plarre Judd held the position of State Manager Coles Express for Victoria and Tasmania overseeing the retail operation of 130 stores. Judd has completed a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Business Management and is a Certified Franchise Executive.

Max Soteris, Chief Financial Officer

Max oversees Plarre Foods Group’s financial management, funding strategy and digital transformation. Prior to joining Plarre Foods, Max spent five years at Swisse Wellness in roles combining operational finance and business development such as capital strategy, M&A and financial reporting. Max also brings over 10 years of experience in Deal Advisory at KPMG in Australia, USA and the Caribbean region, advising a wide range of clients such as Private Equity and listed companies. Max is a qualified Chartered Accountant (CAANZ).

Chris Cotton – Head of Marketing

Chris has over 20 years experience leading marketing teams, delivering marketing strategy and executing tactical marketing activities. His career began in publishing, working for RBI UK, before completing projects and roles within digital agencies, ecommerce start-ups, the finance sector and health & beauty retail. Chris has worked on a truly diverse range of projects across many sectors.

His journey into food franchising began in 2016 when he relocated from London, UK to Melbourne and took the Head of Marketing role at SumoSalad, Australia’s largest and most awarded healthy fast food franchise. Chris joined Plarre Foods Group in early 2020 to lead Plarre Foods Group's in-house marketing team with responsibility for Ferguson Plarre's Bakehouse and the Pie Society brand.

Simon Campbell – Chief People Officer

Simon is a senior HR leader with extensive organisational development, change management & industrial relations experience gained with leading Australian & international organisations, many of them in the food industry.

He holds a Masters of Business, a degree in psychology and is a certified mentor with the Australian Human Resources Institute. Previous roles at Goodman Fielder & the Compass Group place Simon in a unique position to guide Plarre Foods Group confidently into a future where good people are vital to driving growth & cultural success.