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Retired NRL star hit jackpot selling unusual food item that blew up when the pandemic hit Australia

Former NRL star Sean Garlick went from selling pies out of a small Sydney bakery to running a $20million empire supplying hundreds of stores worldwide.

The former Sydney Roosters and Rabbitohs captain, 51, has opened up about his 20-year-old business Garlo’s Pies.

Garlick said the company has been lucky to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic despite pubs, clubs, schools, cafes and sports ground sales dropping.

Former NRL star Sean Garlick went from selling pies out of a small Sydney bakery to shipping containers of product overseas and growing his company into a $20million empire

Former NRL star Sean Garlick went from selling pies out of a small Sydney bakery to shipping containers of product overseas and growing his company into a $20million empire

Tony Abbott (centre) packs pies with Sean Garlick (2nd from right), Managing Director at Garlo's Pies in Sydney in 2013

Tony Abbott (centre) packs pies with Sean Garlick (2nd from right), Managing Director at Garlo’s Pies in Sydney in 2013 

Supermarket sales went ‘through the roof’ because people started panic-buying pies to keep in freezers ‘in case Armageddon came along’.

Since opening a small storefront in Maroubra in the city’s east in 2001 alongside his brother Nathan, the family-owned company now distributes pies to 650 stores nationally.

‘The only person who knew anything about pies back then was my brother, Nathan, who was a pastry cook. When we opened our first pie shop at Maroubra, not only did we not know how to run a business, we didn’t even know anyone who had run a business,’ Garlick told The Daily Telegraph.

When he finished his NRL career Garlick worked as a football manager with the Rabbitohs and made pies on the side with his brother.

But when the store quickly became successful he went into it full time and opened 13 pie shops in five years across Sydney.

They had locations in Mascot, Coogee, Bondi Junction, Marrickville, Eastgardens, Manly, Liverpool, Parramatta, Blacktown and Enmore.

Now their biggest customers are Coles and Woolworths, and Garlo’s even supplies to Costco.

The former Sydney Roosters and Rabbitohs captain, 51, has opened up about his 20-year-old business Garlo's Pies

The former Sydney Roosters and Rabbitohs captain, 51, has opened up about his 20-year-old business Garlo’s Pies

Garlic played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs between 1990 and 1993 before moving to the Roosters for 1994 to 1997

Garlic played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs between 1990 and 1993 before moving to the Roosters for 1994 to 1997

‘We export to five countries – Japan, that’s out biggest, we’re in a supermarket chain over there, UAE – Abu-Dhabi and Dubai — Hong Kong, New Zealand and we go to some Pacific Islands,’ Garlick said.

Up to 100 staff, including nine full-time family members, make up to 80,000 pies per day.

‘It’s funny, we used to sell pies one at a time. I then used to think we were killing it when we would sell them by the box when we went to wholesale,’ the managing director said. 

Garlick’s son and Bachelor star Jackson also works as a marketing executive for the family business.     

Garlic played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs between 1990 and 1993 before moving to the Roosters for 1994 to 1997.

He then returned to the Rabbitohs to finish his career between 1998 and 1999. 

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