Sponsored by Dawn Foods

Winner: Bachmanns Patisserie

Bachmanns’ reputation, staff training, steady growth and investment made it a stand-out entry in this category.

The business, with 19 staff, has two retail premises, in Thames Ditton and Weybridge, and a third site is being sought as it grows at a steady pace.

Thames Ditton has seen a major investment with a new roof, ovens, machinery, skylights and electrics. “It has transformed the way we work,” says MD Chris Bachmann (pictured). This site makes all Danish, croissants, most gâteaux and first-stage pastry, while Weybridge produces all chocolate in a sterile, temperature-controlled environment, as well as Linzer torte and all ‘keeping cakes’, biscuits and petits fours. 

The business produces 450 lines in total, 40 different chocolate delicacies and many seasonal creations. Innovation is constant – such as a strawberry & orange trifle or Victoria sponge infused with Grand Marnier, with raspberry jam and Chantilly cream, made with vanilla sugar.

No creations or concoctions in the shop are priced. “It encourages customers to ask questions, and staff know every ingredient and method,” explains Bachmann.

The firm is also well placed to tap demand for lower-sugar items. “The less sugar the lighter the product,” he says. “Most of our sugar levels are 18-20%, while some people use up to 60%.”

Finalist: Reeve the Baker

A retail craft bakery with 12 shops in Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire, Reeve specialises in artisan products, with a strong focus on sourdough breads.

Its bakers and trainees are taught in-house, as well as being sent on specific courses.

“We are expanding by adding new locations,” says MD Gary Reeve (pictured). “This year it was Sherbourne and we aim to open a new outlet each year for at least the next three years.”

Good use is made of social media and the website for buffet and cake ordering, as well as promoting the brand.

The last six months have seen the launch of sourdough bagels, a farmhouse sourdough and the current project, sourdough brioche rolls. All are made from Reeve’s mother dough, with no improvers or commercial sours, ensuring authenticity. French flour and real butter are used to make croissants, which have proved so popular that a cinnamon twirl and a chocolate twist have been introduced.

A full-time hygiene and health & safety officer is employed and there is a continuous program of microbiological testing on products to ensure due diligence and HACCP are working effectively.

Finalist: Warrens Bakery

Established in 1860, Warrens still uses traditional hand-crimping to create its Cornish pasties.

The firm has two bakeries in the south west, which supply 51 shops between Land’s End and Bristol. Its strategy is to move rapidly into franchising, with 100 stores in the next five years. The first opened near Birmingham this year and there are plans for another 20 by the end of the year. To cope, one bakery site has increased production space by 22% and there has been investment totalling £650,000. It has also opened a Centre of Excellence to provide training.

Products include artisan breads, sandwiches, cakes, scones and sweet baked goods.

Warrens’ director and chief operating officer Jason Jobling (pictured) began working in the business aged 14, starting off sugaring doughnuts. Every product has a hand-craft process and Warrens works with local colleges and schools to educate youngsters on traditional skills and provide apprenticeships.

Seasonal marketing has seen coverage in titles such as Metro and Woman & Home, and its 2016 Christmas pudding gained the top vote in Country Life Magazine.