Despite opening on April Fool’s Day 1982, Truffles Bakery is no joke. Nearly four decades later, the business has 13 shops, a restaurant and a booming lunch truck business.
Having passed from one family to another, Truffles Bakery first opened its doors under Peter Tompsett’s watchful eye on 1 April 1982. Located on Henfield High Street, back then, it was still known as The Regency Bakery but, having trained at the National Bakery School and then in Germany, Peter was keen to bring Continental flair to the British baking scene. This meant baking as much from scratch as possible – a tradition that continues to this day.
The consumer favourites haven’t changed much since 1982, with a multi-seed loaf, sausage rolls, jam doughnuts and tiffin still flying off the shelves, says general manager Molly Tompsett.
She works at Truffles alongside two of her three siblings (Amy in HR and Daisy in finance), her mum Jane and a 200-strong workforce. While Peter and Jane are still involved, most of the day-to-day operations are handled by the next generation.
“Dad still keeps an eye on us,” Molly explains, “but he always says we need to make our own mistakes.”
A second shop, in Hurstpierpoint, followed in 1983 and, since then, Truffles has had a steady stream of openings with 13 shops across West Sussex in 2019. All are now supplied by a central production unit on Mackley Industrial Estate in Small Dole, which it moved to in 1988, although this wasn’t just due to expansion. “We were blocking the high street and getting complaints about vehicles,” Molly admits.
The business model has also changed, with the wholesale side increasing (although retail remains the breadwinner) and catering trucks introduced in 2007 to supply nearby offices and businesses.
Since 2012, Truffles has also operated The Hummingbird restaurant at Shoreham Airport.
“It’s branded differently because we didn’t want people to expect Truffles,” explains Molly. “We supply everything, but it’s much more a restaurant and we have four full-time chefs there.”
The menu at Truffles’ other sites has also evolved. “It has changed massively of late. People want gluten-free and vegan,” Molly says. “It has also become very takeaway based. They don’t come to us as much for bread and cakes; it’s all sandwiches and crisps.”
Things shoppers can’t get in a supermarket are also on the rise, such as personalised cakes.
“Our motto is better, not bigger,” concludes Molly. “We want to get more consistent, increase the catering side of things and see where the high street takes us – it’s still performing really well for us.”
1982: Peter Tompsett buys family business The Regency Bakery
1983: Second site opens in Hurstpierpoint
1985: The business rebrands as Truffles Bakery
1988: Truffles Bakery moves production to a site in Small Dole
2007: Lunch trucks catering to nearby businesses are introduced
2007: Peter and Jane’s daughter Amy joins the team, followed by Molly in 2009 and Daisy in 2015
2012: The Hummingbird restaurant in Shoreham Airport joins the portfolio
2018: Truffles Bakery opens its most recent shop, in Goring