For long-established bakery chains, the idea of trying something new may seem like risky business, as existing customers will be used to particular products and price points. However, a number of bakery businesses, interested in introducing different and perhaps more premium lines, have come up with new shops to fit their ideas. We look at how two businesses have achieved ’concept outlet’ success.
Halls Bakery in Lancashire has taken the effects of the recession as an opportunity to overhaul the business. Established in 1933, the traditional craft business currently has four retail outlets and supplies for corporate catering. However, Joe Hall, who runs the business, decided he needed a radical plan to ensure continued growth and to differentiate his products. From this, ’The Proper Pie Shop Halls @ 47’ in Chorley was born. Keeping the Halls brand name, the counters, décor and signage have been updated to give a younger and more modern feel, while still retaining the firm’s traditional values. The shop has more of a deli feel to it, says operations director Peter Gronback, with a slightly different product offering and seating upstairs.
"I found many bakeries were approaching their business development in the same ways and product offerings were becoming very similar," says Hall. "I also found that my customers’ lifestyles had changed a lot over the years and what they expected from their retail experience was now very different. Their new shopping behaviour and preferences made me decide to design a new bakery outlet and take a radical new approach, so we could really make an impact."
The shop counters offer hot and cold products, including hot pies and savouries, hot carvery sandwiches, made-to-order sandwiches, soup, coffee, pre-packed sandwiches and snacks, cold drinks, crisps and confectionery. "It has a slightly different pricing struc-ture, and we’ve noticed we’re getting a younger clientele now," adds Gronback.
Hall says customer feedback has been great and business has been excellent. "All the signs point to us exceeding our sales targets, even in this difficult trading period. The shop was opened on a very tight budget, but is showing that, as long as there is a sound concept that is implemented well, it’s not necessary to throw huge money at a project to make it successful."
Traditional bakery retailer Friary Mill, based in Plymouth, decided to break from the norm by opening a contemporary coffee shop earlier this year.
The newly revamped shop in Gasking Street, is located next to the site of the business’ first retail outlet, which has also had a make-over. As well as indoor seating, it has an outdoor terrace and a total of 40 covers. After 21 years in business, Friary Mill says it is now cautiously exploring the scope for further expansion.
Director Karen Milner feels the make-over of the existing shop, with the launch of the adjoining coffee shop "complement each other very well".
The coffee shops feature a centrally-located panoramic display counter, with modern furnishings, "warm corporate colours", wall graphics, and menus written on white glass panels.
Customers can choose from all-day breakfasts, paninis, quiche and salad, filled rolls, Danish pastries, fresh cream cakes, and a range of cooked meals such as jacket potatoes and homemade soup. The revamped bakery shop next door now focuses on sandwiches and hot food-to-go.
Friary Mill consultant Mathew Goodman says the addition of a coffee shop to its retail estate offers existing customers an extended menu, based around its current bakery lines, with the addition of other products, such as freshly ground coffee. "It gives customers the choice either to take away or eat in, and enables the company to compete effectively against high street brands," he says.
The reaction from existing customers has been positive, he adds, and new customers have also been "enticed" into the new outlet.