Originally, the pies weren’t Mrs Mac’s. The bakery business Ken Macgregor started in Perth in 1954 used the brand name, Bakewell. And Bakewell Pies they remained until 1988. The name may have been chosen for its dual connotations. In addition to its literal meaning, it could also have been a reference to Mount Bakewell, one of the highest peaks near the Western Australian capital. Adding some local cred, perhaps. (On the other hand, at least one account suggests that Macgregor had used the Bakewell name in his previous business in Melbourne.)
A Scottish immigrant, Macgregor started a bakery in Melbourne in the 1940s, making cakes, buns and pies. On moving to Western Australia, he set up a wholesale business in the Northbridge area of Perth. His son, Iain, took over in the late 1960s and manufacturing operations moved to a new site in Morley in 1968. Bakewell Foods Pty Ltd made a variety of pastry goods, including sweet and savoury pies, pasties, sausage rolls, quiches and turnovers.
The Mrs Mac’s range was introduced in 1988, although the Bakewell name persisted in supermarket freezers. In 2004, Mrs Mac’s became the official name of the business. By 2009, around 65 per cent of the company’s business was outside Western Australia. Iain Macgregor’s death in 2013 was a setback for the company but by 2015 products were also being exported to New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore. Now (2023) local sales account for only 20 per cent of the business.
Mrs Mac’s is the largest pie company in Western Australia and the second largest in Australia behind Patties Foods, makers of Four ‘n Twenty, Herbert Adams and several other brands. The company has gained contracts with many sports organisations as well as selling through supermarkets, convenience stores, school canteens and food service companies.
Despite its fame, Mrs Mac’s faced challenges in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in the early 2020s. The company blamed the increased cost of raw materials, a loss of sales during lockdowns and the loss of a major convenience-store customer for its financial woes. It had also undertaken a significant factory upgrade immediately prior to the pandemic. In November 1922, the previously family-owned company was sold to Aus Pie Co, a mysterious new entity that, soon after, also acquired the South Australian bakery company, Balfours. The new owners claimed that operations, and the brand, would continue but heralded “improvements” in product quality and marketing reach.