Those with a sweet tooth will have noticed that, all of a sudden, the world of cakes and croissants has become big business. Last month, the French brand, Paul Bakery, opened in Melrose Arch, throwing down the gauntlet to local incumbents. But the largest patisserie operation in SA, the 20-year old Château Gâteaux, says it is "delighted" by the new competition. "It raises the bar," says director Malcolm Lyle. Château Gâteaux’s climb, from supplying restaurants and coffee shops since 1997, is a rousing tale of a small business making good in an industry with razor-thin margins and one particularly susceptible to consumers tightening their belts. The bakery began business in a 180m² kitchen that had been converted from a panelbeating shop, in Durban’s grimy industrial Sydney Road. It opened its first store in 2011 in Durban, producing between 800 and 1,000 cakes a day, alongside 10,000 portions of desserts and pastries. Lyle joined Château Gâteaux nearly nine years ago. Soon, it was s...

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