The Lehem Erez bakery and café chain is looking to go kosher, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, the chain's owner Giora Naftali has been working vigorously towards received a kosher certificate for its baked goods.
The report said the chain will no longer operate its bread and cakes factory in Poleg, Netanya on Shabbat. Some of the chain's branches already close on Shabbat, including shops in Kfar Saba, Jerusalem, and Tivon.
The decision to make the chain kosher is part of the management's recovery process. Once Lehem Erez's products are certified, they can be marketed to institutions such as kosher hotels and party halls, that cannot use non-kosher products.
A kosher certificate was never part of Lehem Erez founder Erez Komrovsky's vision for the chain. After selling his remaining shares in the company to Naftali, Komrovsky is now an advisor to the chain.
Lehem Erez CEO Ofer Shoval confirmed the report and added that making the chain kosher was a necessary move in order to break into markets beyond the branches' sales.
According to Shoval there are no non-kosher ingredients in any of the company's products anyway. However, Shoval denied rumors that the chain would completely cease to work on Saturdays.
There are currently 22 Lehem Erez branches operating throughout Israel, with two more branches expected to open in the near future. So far, the chain has been generating losses for its investors.
In an exclusive interview to Yedioth Ahronoth, Shoval revealed the chain's financial data and debts. "In 2007, the chain's turnover was NIS 43 million ($10.2 million), with an operational loss of NIS 2 million ($477,000). Debts to banks were NIS 9.5 million ($2.2 million).
”In 2008, the forecast is for a yearly turnover of NIS 45 million ($10.7 million), operational balance or a NIS 1 million ($238,000) profit, and minimizing debts to bans to NIS 8 million ($1.9 million)"