White and wholemeal sourdough loaves by Stir Bakery displayed on shelves   2100x1400

Source: Stir Bakery

White and wholemeal sourdough loaves displayed on shelves at a Stir café in Cambridge

Cambridge-based bakery brand Stir has surpassed its £100k crowdfunding target by over 50% as it looks to expand its retail estate and increase online sales.

At time of writing, the business had raised over £152,800 in pledges from a total of 56 investors via its pitch on the Seedrs crowdfunding platform. Stir currently operates five café outlets in and around the city, supplied by its dedicated production unit, Stir Bakery, that also caters to over 70 local wholesale clients.

A staff member picks up a Nutella doughnut at a Stir cafe in Cambridge  1542x1800

Source: Stir Bakery

A staff member picks up a Nutella doughnut at a Stir cafe in Cambridge

“We are delighted with the response so far,” Stir co-founder and director Matt Harrison told British Baker, noting that the target had been hit within the first few hours of the campaign launching on 24 May.

The vast majority of investors were either retail or wholesale customers, commented Harrison. “This first fundraising round is primarily about giving our loyal fans a chance to own a slice of a brand they love, as well as testing how this type of fundraising works,” he said.

“Of course, we have been happy to have been able to have conversations with more serious investors too. We have a range of investment options from £250 up to £25k and we have a real mix of investors across all the investment tiers,” added Harrison, while revealing that the crowdfunding campaign would probably only remain open for another seven to 10 days.

According to its crowdfunding pitch, sales at Stir have grown by 50% in the last 18 months to reach an annual turnover in excess of £3m (based on unaudited accounts). Investors are being offered 4.56% equity in the business, with a share price of £25.60. The Stir business as a whole employs over 75 people, serving more than 10,000 customers every week, it said.

Future plans

Having self-funded its growth to date, the director confirmed that new funds raised will be used to accelerate the company’s outlet opening programme, as well as helping support a major upgrade in the Stir Bakery online shop and an expansion of its popular home delivery service.

Stir café on Chesterton Road in Cambridge  1408x1800

Source: Stir Bakery

Stir café on Chesterton Road in Cambridge

Discussions are said to be underway for three new café openings in Cambridge neighbourhoods, while the company is also looking to refresh its branding, launch a new eCommerce platform, bring back its bread subscription service, and expand its product range, among other growth ambitions.

Harrison claimed Stir had a reputation for serving the best brunch in Cambridge, expressing pride in the way it combined its bakery and brunch offering with its speciality coffee. “It is a formula that really work,” he said, adding that it was also “unashamedly a ‘neighbourhood’ brand, sitting at the heart of close-knit communities”.

Cambridge is Britain’s fastest growing city, declared Harrison, believing it to be underserved by great independent food and drink operators when compared to cities like Brighton or Bristol. This makes it a “great fit for Stir’s bakery / brunch / coffee combination”, he asserted.

A winning formula

Harrison held leadership roles at Regus and Greene King before co-founding the business with his wife Judith in 2015. Starting out as a family-run café in the Chesterton neighbourhood of Cambridge, it added a craft bakery next door two years later.

Stir Bakery loaf production - Cambridge   2100x1400

Source: Stir Bakery

Sourdough loaf production at Stir Bakery in Cambridge North

The Stir Bakery project was completed in mid-2022 and overseen by Baker of the Year 2023 finalist Sandor Bagameri, who now leads a bakery team of 25 that work around the clock. Earlier this year, it placed tenth in 2024 Bakers’ Dozen list of the UK’s top artisan bakeries.

In addition to creating its range of artisanal bread, pastries, and desserts, the bakery has dedicated spaces for safe production of gluten-free and vegan products, such as its award-winning Gluten-free Smoked Beetroot & Sweet Chilli Loaf. More recently, Stir’s Carrot & Pecan Cake won the Classic Cake category at the inaugural edition of Britain’s Best Cake.