Maison Blanc co-founder Raymond Blanc told British Baker that the chain was “in the midst of huge changes”, but was back on track to deliver the authenticity of its brand values, with the business now returning to profit.
The firm was bought by Kuwait-based Kout Food Group Company (KFG) in October 2007, having previously been owned by bakery group Lyndale. KFG UK was keen to go back to the original concept and values created by Blanc, who returned to the fold one year ago to spearhead a relaunch of the chain, which he founded with his wife, Jenny, in 1981.
The financial model has been reworked, new staff have been brought in and it has invested heavily in training, said KFG’s chief operating officer Simon Wilkinson.
The patisserie range has been taken from 120 to around 16 core products, and two seasonal patisserie products will be launched, three times a year. Its patisserie launches for spring are: Earl Grey Citron Chocolate Tart and Gariguette Strawberry and Cream with marshmallow. Wilkinson, who has been working with Blanc for the last eight months, said the firm would also expand the cake and patisserie range it supplies to Waitrose.
Maison Blanc had previously bought in a lot of bread products from France, but now the bakery produces all its own loaves, explained Wilkinson, adding that it had a three-year strategy for its bread, patisserie and menus.
Although there are also plans for more shops, the location and time has to be just right, he said. “We have identified around 30-40 potential locations, but we don’t want to compromise the quality.”