A recently opened Dorchester bakery was forced to sell bread by candlelight after the energy supplier to the shop’s previous tenant cut off the shop’s electricity.
Owner Clive Cobb, told British Baker that npower had turned off the electricity at The Town Mill Bakery’s shop in Tudor Arcade, South Street, on Tuesday 15 December, as the previous tenant had an unpaid bill outstanding, before reinstating it on Friday 18 December.
“Npower asked us to take out a contract with them and pay a £4,000 deposit,” said Cobb. “And along with all the local coverage including the BBC news, they then came and switched us back on again.”
The majority of the organic bakery’s products are baked at Town Mill’s Exeter bakery in Topsham, so the shop was still able to sell fresh bread. “We didn’t have any tills and everyone had to dress up, as it was really cold,” explained Cobb. “We may not yet have power here in Dorchester...but we do have candles, fresh bread and scrummy cakes!,” read a post on its Twitter site on the morning of 18 December.
The shop opened in the second week of November 2009, and a contract had been taken out with a different energy supplier. Cobb said that as npower had addressed its correspondence to the previous tenants, he had no idea what the situation was until a representative from npower walked through the door with a summons.
“We’re waiting for compensation now, which npower has said it is going to give us,” said Cobb, who estimates the shop lost approximately £3,200 in takings for the time it had no electricity. “Our sales weren’t dramatically down. Where we’d normally take around £1,000 a day, we took around £400, so it wasn’t a complete disaster,” said Cobb. “And we got more publicity from being closed than we would have done from being open.”
Town Mill Bakery is based in Lyme Regis, Dorset and has shops in Sherbourne and Dorchester. In September 2009, it moved it bread production to Topsham, in Devon and its Lyme Regis site was transformed into a restaurant and the hub of its cake-baking business.