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Interview with Roland Antonelli

An excerpt from an interview with Roland Antonelli…

As a family business with over 100 years in wafer, biscuit & cones manufacture, Antonelli recently asked the chairman and father of the current directors, Roland Antonelli, about the history & development of the market over the last 50 years. 

“Our policy was, and indeed still is, to make ‘Cones for the Connoisseur’”, Roland tells us (with a glint in his eye).  “I spoke to customers using other suppliers’ cones who couldn’t understand that when selling cones near the seaside that their display cones went soft by the end of the day”.  Antonelli’s ‘Cones for the Connoisseur’ are baked for longer to ensure all the moisture is removed so if they are then exposed to a damp atmosphere they don’t go floppy quickly.  We obviously recommend that you keep our cones fresh by keeping them in the boxes but you always need some on show and available for serving.

How different is the market today than it was in 1961 when you first opened the bakery in Eccles?

“The market has changed dramatically during that period,” Roland relates, “in the 60s and 70s the market was predominantly served by mobilers or ice cream vans as the public would call them.  Local Authority legislation around licensing for selling ice cream on streets and the introduction of employment tax had a detrimental impact on the mobiling sector with a vast reduction in the number of vans on the road.  Those left belong mainly to single van operators or much smaller fleets.  On the upside there has been an increase in ice cream parlours or ‘Gelaterias’ as they are now often called who have filled the gap left by the disappearing mobilers.” 

Roland also highlights the changes in manufacturing; “Another significant change in the dynamics of the industry is that the number of cones manufacturers has also dropped dramatically with ice cream makers no longer making their own cones on site. This is due to the introduction of automated machines producing quality cones to meet increasingly high demand. These smaller number of cones suppliers have, as a result, grown and also taken on the supply of ice cream ingredients from specialist manufacturers.  Having secured the UK sole distributor contract for the world’s leading flavour house - MEC3, our family business has grown phenomenally over the last decade - during the life of the bakery at Eccles our products have increased from 7 to somewhere around 1007!”

Finally the other major difference in the market today compared with the early 1960s is the reduced seasonality of the industry.  “Whilst sales of ice cream or gelato and cones are obviously higher when the sun shines in the summer months, sales are now made virtually all year round with a few businesses closing for a short time at the beginning of the calendar year, particularly in tourist areas.  Historically vans would only be on the road for 9 months of the year and all ice cream shops closed for the winter.”  With the introduction of ice cream kiosks and parlours into shopping centres, where the weather does not affect sales so much, as consumers are protected inside, demand for ice cream cones looks set to increase.  

To read the full interview see our website

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