It must have taken a lot of guts and a very understanding wife for a man to transform his home into a bakery in order to follow his dream. But in late 2006, that’s exactly what Patrick Moore did.
Knocking through from his kitchen to his dining room and conservatory to make a large production area, Moore started baking pastries and loaves to sell at farmers’ markets and food festivals. With huge electrical costs, and a remortgaged house, he missed many a night’s sleep baking, before making his deliveries in the morning.
Just over two years ago, he took on his first part-time member of staff, but as the initial 25 loaves required per day rose to 300, the need for a commercial bakery site was evident. He now employs 14 staff at his bakery and tea room More? The Artisan Bakery in Staveley, Cumbria and, last September, picked up the Baking Industry Award for Speciality Bread Product of the Year, sponsored by British Bakels, for his Lakeland Treacle Bread with Walnuts and Raisins.
"My mother was German, and my father Irish, so there was a wide
cross-section of food coming into the house," explains Moore.
Formerly a successful chef, Moore says his real passion has always been with bread and baking. His earliest ’bread memory’ occurred on a holiday to his uncle’s house in Germany, when he was around six years old. There, he was greeted by the smell of freshly baked rye bread and coffee probably not something that would excite most six year olds, but it made something in him click. After a long career working for other people, he decided he wanted to work for himself. "Baking was in my blood, so it had to be that," he says.
Moore describes his business as a "destination bakery"; as he says: "People come from miles around for the products we sell, because they cannot get them anywhere else." The shop sells a range of pastries, such as roast hazelnut and dark chocolate torte, and blueberry and almond tart, alongside its Great Taste Award grand champion-winning Muddees (a chocolate brownie). Pies include duck, plum and Armagnac, and honey chicken with parmesan and greengage, and he makes sandwiches such as hell-hot roast chicken, mayo and coriander leaf. It also boasts a wide selection of breads. "There are 63 different mix types on our bread list that’s massive for a bakery as small as ours," says Moore. "We provide affordable luxury £2.50 for a loaf that is absolutely fantastic is not expensive," he says. One lady, for example, comes in and buys 20-30 loaves to take down to her daughter in London, for her to store in her freezer, every time she visits.
More? supplies a lot of farm shops, cafés, hotels and restaurants in the local area, as well as selling at farmers’ markets, food festivals and events. In terms of distribution, it only supplies within its local region as this ensures product freshness. Yet Moore says some items for example the treacle bread have a longer shelf-life, so he is now looking at the possibility of distributing these through a third party. Meanwhile, his online shop is doing a steady trade of 40-50 orders per week.
Work is due to take place at the Staveley site within the next six weeks to double the size of the shop. Moore wants it to have more of a "bakery and coffee shop feel". The wall separating the shop with the current loading bay will be knocked through, and the loading bay moved to outside the building. He says increased space will also enable him to expand the product range available. "The win and the success of the treacle loaf has also encouraged us to bring it to a wider market. And we may go into large-scale production on a national level."
He says it’s important to think about how you are going to get to where you want to be. For Moore, the hope is to have several shops in different locations, targeted at the premium end of the market. In terms of finance, the business looks set to better his £600k revenue forecast by a further £100k. By the year after next, he is hoping for £1m.
For anyone looking to enter the same BIA category this year, he says, "Don’t be afraid to be different. Entering something a bit more unusual is what gave us the edge. And it’s easy when you’re having fun."
The winning loaf
"I invented this loaf about 20 years ago," says Moore, adding that it has only been sold in the shop since June 2010. He used to make a couple of loaves a day, but it took a while for him to develop and perfect the recipe from a handful of loaves, to 100-plus a day. "The recipe, which didn’t contain raisins and walnuts initially, is quite heavy on treacle, so it needs a lighter bake on a lower setting. We use a very small amount of yeast for a wholemeal mix, which doesn’t always suit, but we found a fantastic flour from Carr’s, that works."
Moore says he then started thinking what could be added for texture, which is where the walnuts came in. "To add a softness and a background, we thought we’d add raisins. But then I thought how much flavour would normal raisins have? For some of our sourdough starters we begin with a grape-fermented raisin liquor, so I thought why don’t we use the raisins from that? People have said it’s a posh malt loaf, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s great with blue cheeses, cured meats, or used as a crispbread, for example," he says. "Sales have gone up consistently since we launched it, but since the Baking Industry Awards, we must have seen a 40-50% increase."
The keys to success
Moore’s chef-learned traits, such as absolute consistency, "have been paramount in our rapid expansion from three rooms of a house into a business that has seen year-on-year growth up 50% in the past two years", he explains. Development and the willingness to try new things, is another, he believes. "We try to make a point of difference by looking at what’s on the market, and at how we can better it," says Moore.
"Development is key to what we do. If we don’t keep moving, it won’t be long before someone overtakes us in different aspects of the business. It might only be trying things such as 2C difference when the product is proving. There is no such thing as a bad idea."
Knowledgeable staff are also key to sales, he says. Although his staff don’t undergo formal training when they start, Moore says he tries to spend a lot of time in the shop imparting his knowledge to his team.
The bakery also offers sampling trays and, if a customer comes in for a product that it is not currently making, Moore says he will make alternative suggestions for them; it’s all just about getting them to try it in the first place he says, adding that nine times out of 10 they’ll like it.
Comment from the sponsor
"Patrick’s success clearly shows the importance of speciality breads to the craft sector. People clearly are more discerning and are prepared to pay for quality, as the £3 he achieves for a 400g loaf testifies. As one of the judging panel, I was very impressed by both the quality and great taste of the bread."
Pauline Ferrol, national sales controller, British Bakels
On winning the award
Moore described winning at BIA as being tantamount to a lifetime’s achievement. "To be recognised in the industry to that extent, we were a bit aghast. It absolutely blew us away."