#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 4°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Dragon invests €200k in former construction worker's bakery

Sean O’Sullivan invested in the Cherry Blossom Bakery, gaining a 30 per cent stake for €200,000.

Simon Stenson and Sean O'Sullivan
Simon Stenson and Sean O'Sullivan
Image: Cherry Blossom Bakery via Facebook

A BAKERY STARTED by a Co Mayo man who had been made redundant from his job in construction has not only provided jobs and retraining to unemployed people, but also caught the eye of a Dragon’s Den investor.

Cherry Blossom Bakery bakes speciality breads and cakes from scratch in its Castlebar location, and was started by Simon Stenson three years ago. He had found himself redundant and decided to move from construction into a totally new arena, inspired by his love of healthy foods and a successful past in hospitality.

Dragon’s Den

Last night, he appeared on RTÉ show Dragon’s Den, where he was given a €200,000 investment from dragon Sean O’Sullivan in return for a 40 per cent stake in the company.

He told TheJournal.ie that he was delighted with the news – and that going on the show was incredibly nerve-wracking.

“It’s absolutely fantastic – its amazing,” he said. In fact, he admits that O’Sullivan was not the dragon he imagined would invest in him, given his interest in other types of businesses.

The investment will bring the bakery “to the next level”, and already they have struck a nationwide deal with Musgraves since their Dragon’s Den deal.

They can now invest in more and bigger equipment, enabling them to roll their products out to more stores around the country.

Because he knows his business inside-out, Stenson wasn’t worried about answering the dragons’ questions, but admits he was “a nervous wreck walking up those stairs”.


All of his employees are ex-construction workers, and Stenson is passing on to them the skills he learned while at a three-month course in Ballymaloe. “Why don’t I give a little back,” is how he puts it. He pointed out that young people who had been working in the construction industry often found themselves without qualifications due to leaving school for a job.

“They have been left on the shelf for so long. They are getting a second opportunity to retrain in something else,” he said. He describes the bakers as the “unsung heroes” of the business, who get up in the early hours to bake the products. There are 15 of them in total working at Cherry Blossom Bakery now.

The company is steadily increasing its distribution nationwide, and has achieved this all within just three years. While the products pay homage to home-baking, Cherry Blossom aims to put a modern spin on its cakes and breads.

“When I started, I suppose it was a niche product and I didn’t think it was going to reach the amount of sales it did,” said a delighted Stenson of his healthy products. “People’s eating attitude in Ireland has changed.”

Read: “This is the right decision”: Norah Casey to leave Dragons’ Den>

Read next: