Bakers Delight customers and franchisees are divided over revelations that the company’s founder put his money behind the No campaign in Australia’s failed Voice to Parliament referendum last year.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the company’s founder, Roger Gillespie, was among those who financially supported lobby group Advance Australia, one of the largest organizations to campaign against Voice.
Mr. Gillespie told the Australian Financial Review donated $20,000 to Advance and $14,000 to the Liberal Party in 2022 ‘due to their position on the referendum (Voice)’.
The revelation led several left-wing Australians to call for a boycott, while others, such as former federal MP Craig Kelly, doubled down on their support for the chain and purchased large quantities of the baked goods.
A loyal Bakers Delight customer shared a viral photo of a busy queue outside their local store just hours later, joking: “What’s the opposition to ‘Go Woke, Go Broke?'”
A loyal Bakers Delight customer used a photo of a queue outside his local store as proof Australians supported the chain.
Shakinah, in her 20s, said she doesn’t plan to boycott Bakers Delight just because the founder donated to the No campaign.
Daily Mail Australia took to the streets of Sydney to see how customers really felt about Mr Gillespie’s donations.
Shakinah, aged in her 20s, had just left a Baker’s Delight store when she was informed of the controversy by Daily Mail Australia.
‘Oh, I didn’t know, wow. It’s a little selfish to donate money to people who don’t support the cause.
“I feel like he should stay out of it, like it’s none of his business,” he said. “But I’m not going to boycott.”
Luka, in her 20s, used to work at Baker’s Delight and said the founder’s contributions to the No camp had deterred her from returning.
He did not want his face photographed for fear of suffering violent reactions.
“Baker’s Delight is a very popular place throughout Australia and the fact that I didn’t even know I was basically supporting the No campaign makes me very angry,” he said.
“I don’t want my bread to be political and I might boycott Baker’s in the same way I boycott Maccas for their support of Israel.”
Luka, in her 20s, is a former Baker’s Delight employee who left the company in 2021 for an unrelated reason. She says she will never eat there again.
Tim, aged in his 40s, said Gillespie wasted his money as the referendum was a resounding No anyway.
Tim, in his 40s, said capitalism was based on people spending money wherever they wanted.
‘YO“If people want to boycott it, then it’s their choice,” he said.
‘I think people who spend money trying to stop progress, especially social progress, I find it disconcerting.
“I don’t shop at Bakers Delight anyway, but all I can say to the founder is: what a waste of money.”
One Bakers Delight franchisee who was happy to share his opinion, but asked to remain anonymous, said: “I’m an immigrant, I grew up outside Australia and came here.”
‘When the Voice referendum was held, I wanted to see how the Australian public thought about it and it was rejected. That is the beauty of democracy.
‘But as far as founder donations go, all I can say is that I’ve been with Bakers Delight here my whole life and I know the amazing things they’ve done for me.
“So I don’t have an opinion on that in the sense that anyone can have an opinion, right or wrong, but I think if he has that opinion and if he has the courage to say it openly, then I don’t have it.” I do not have any problem with that.
Lucinda, in her 20s, found it misleading that the donations were made in private.
Lucinda, in her 20s, said she found it misleading that no one knew about the donations until months after the referendum ended.
“I feel like it’s inappropriate for him to get involved,” she said.
“We didn’t know until now and the matter is already said and done, so it seems misleading and it’s something I just don’t agree with.”
“I don’t think I’ll come back, honestly.”
Kate, in her 40s, said franchisees should not be held responsible for Mr Gillespie’s donations and would not boycott.
Kate, in her 40s, said she would not boycott Bakers Delight because it would be unfair to the franchisees of each store.
“I wouldn’t boycott Bakers Delight because it’s a (franchise)…so I think each location is individually owned,” he said.
‘On the one hand, I was very disappointed with the referendum result, so my initial response is to think negatively, but I suppose you can donate your own money politically as you see fit.
“I guess if all the owners of Bakers Delight didn’t have a group decision on the matter, then not accepting my patronage there would be unfair to the owner of that particular store because their name has been tarnished by something that is out of their control.”
Others who wished to remain anonymous said it was not their place to judge others.
A Bakers Delight customer, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was doubtful of the Voice concept after hearing the views of some Aboriginal elders on the issue.
“I’m not a fan of how the Voice referendum turned out, but I heard from a lot of elders who told us to vote No, and that’s what I heard from people who really know Aboriginal elders,” she said.
‘The founder of Bakers Delight making donations doesn’t make me happy, but I’m not going to boycott the stores. Everyone has the right to have their own opinion and that’s what he wanted to do.
“If you support liberal things, then you’re just talking about what you like and everyone has the right to their opinion and can donate whatever they want.”
“It’s not that crazy.”
Bakers Delight founder Roger Gillespie (right) and his wife Lesley, pictured.
The Indigenous Voice to Parliament was soundly defeated, losing in every state and winning only in the ACT, last October.
When it was revealed that Gillespie had donated tens of thousands to the No campaign, a backlash erupted online and many quickly called for a boycott.
‘Turns out Bakers Delight isn’t delicious at all. Boycott,” one person wrote on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.
“I won’t buy anything from Bakers Delight again,” said another.
But there was also plenty of support for Gillespie and the bakery chain.
“I will continue to support #BakersDelight, great products and sensible management,” one wrote.
‘Thank you Bakers Delight, we will be sure to buy more from your stores starting today!’ said another.
Bakers Delight and Mr Gillespie have been contacted for comment.
Craig Kelly thanked boycotters for “giving so much publicity to this wonderful Australian company”