I get by with a little help from my friends" is a familiar phrase. "I get by with a little help from my local regeneration agency" is, perhaps, less catchy. But that’s exactly how one start-up bakery has managed to survive the daunting prospect of setting up in one of England’s most deprived districts.
Keith Glenton opened Newbiggin Home Bakery in Newbiggin-on-Sea on 25 October 2006 and, following its huge success, in May this year he expanded to open a factory outlet in North Seaton Industrial Estate.
"My family and I have worked hard to get the business to where it is today without the incredible support from my wife, Janet, the business would not have got off the ground to begin with, and the two of us could not have done it without the strong chain of support present in the area," says Glenton.
He was fortunate throughout the set-up of the business to be able to cherry-pick advice from Go Wansbeck, a long-term, government-backed Local Enterprise Growth Initiative programme that began in 2007 to turn around the area’s enterprise culture.
The county council’s regeneration team also stepped in to help out when, as a result of converting his premises from residential to commercial, the electricity estimate came in at a shocking £10,000. "I had no idea how to cover the cost and without this and all the support, the business would not have made it past first base," he recalls. "And for that I feel extremely lucky."
Since opening, Glenton has worked hard to increase the profitability of the business in a number of ways first and foremost through focusing on making scratch products. "We have always worked hard to produce as much as possible from scratch," he says. "Avoiding outsourcing has radically reduced costs and, although it increases workloads, guaranteeing our customers are getting quality, homemade products is hugely important to us."
In recent months, Newbiggin has begun to promote itself within the local area and region and has received press coverage in both the local newspapers and on television. "The results have been fantastic," he enthuses. "Many people have come into the shop having seen the publicity, and profits have increased. I have learnt that it is about embracing all opportunities that come your way raising the profile of the bakery in the community is a huge and valuable boost to business."
On 19 December the bakery will be hol-ding a Christmas Fair at both of its properties, where it will have Christmas products on sale, as well as tastings and samples for people to try. "Seasonal events are something we have missed out on in the past, due to lack of time and resources, but this year we very much plan to make the most of all the marketing opportunities," explains Glenton.
Despite recession, he has a view to expanding the business into a chain of shops. "I definitely want to continue to spread the success of the bakery in the future," he says. "In an ideal world, one day I will be able to open another five shops around the coast of north-east England. For now, however, I intend to continue building on the success of my current bakeries and to provide a high-quality service to the community."
l For more information on Go Wansbeck visit tinyurl.com/yf52fgz