Blog: A day well spent..

Bolton-based Greenhalgh’s David Smart takes an eye-opening trip to the capital and comes back armed with ideas. 

When you set out on a voyage of expectant discovery you are never quite sure what you’re going to get. Is it going to be an utter waste of time and money, or are you going to bring back ideas for your business?

Thankfully for me, and my little band of trekkers, on a recent visit to London it was the latter.

We were visiting The London Bread & Cake Company, making our way via Tottenham Hale, to meet David Hall. The bakery was a well-established business before David’s ownership and he has spent the past 25 years growing it.

Right from the beginning, David was very open with his business and its systems. His business boasts a BRC Grade A award and also the freight operators’ award for the London area.

His business is wholesale, with no retail outlets at present, although David did comment that, given the right area, he might invest in that side of the business again.

His systems, which he has created along with his technical manager, are very impressive, with a colour-coded paperwork and other processes in place, which makes the rigours of the BRC accreditation inspection a smoother experience. It is certainly well worth a look if you are passing his business. I am sure David would welcome you as he did us.

The next day we were up bright and early as we had a huge day in front of us. David and his sales manager, Jack, escorted us around London visiting a selection of fashionable bread and confectionery shops that were worthy of note.

We started off at La Pâtisserie Des Rêves in South Kensington (lapatisseriedesreves.com/uk) – a very interesting shop, almost a confectioner’s boutique and very French! All of the products were under a refrigerated glass dome, which highlighted the products at their best.

The product quality was really amazing; the neatness, colour and “come on and eat me” appeal were just there. So, of course, I had to buy one, and even though the cost was £4:50 per unit, I did not feel I was overcharged when I finally got to try it on my return home later that day, ably assisted by my daughter.

As the day progressed, we visited many more shops, including the food halls at Selfridges and Harrods, which were packed with new ideas. David also took us to the very famous French bakery Poilâne in Elizabeth Street in Belgravia, London (poilane.com). We were really privileged as, when we arrived, we were invited down into the very small bakery in the basement to view their bakery.

All the breads and pastries are baked in a wood-burning oven, with all the wood imported from France as they want a particular flavour to be imparted into the finished breads. All breads are made using the sourdough process and the flavour of them was so incredible, leaving a very mellow aftertaste.

Soon enough it was time to get back to Euston for the train home, armed with lots of ideas and possibilities. It’s fair to say that London is in a different world completely compared to Bolton… £4:50 for a cake? I don’t think so. However, the style and design of both products and shop layout is worth a future discussion.

I would like to thank David Hall from The London Bread & Cake Company for all his time – and also that of his colleagues for being so generous with their knowledge.

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