Robert Winters, co-owner, Tapa Bakehouse & Coffeehouse, Glasgow
You’re from New Zealand originally, so how did you end up running an organic bakery and coffee shop in Glasgow?
It’s a complicated story. Back in New Zealand, I was a trade union official and my wife, Virginia Webb, was a policy advisor. We decided to take a career break to do some travelling, and ended up in Scotland. We liked the place so much, we decided to stay. I’ve always been an enthusiastic home baker and we are both really into coffee - New Zealand coffee shops are way ahead of those in Britain in terms of quality - so we decided to set up a bakery and a café. Tapa Bakehouse launched in 2003, selling organic bread such as sourdough, focaccia and rye bread.
We then developed a wholesale business to delis, food halls and restaurants, and started attending farmers’ markets. We opened the 60-seater Tapa Coffeehouse three months ago and employ 24 people.
What formal bakery training have you had to date?
I did a year-long National Certificate in Baking at the local college, which taught me the fundamentals, and I’ve learned a lot from books and the internet. I’ve also had some great advice from Andrew Whitley at Bread Matters and the team at the Lighthouse Bakery. Most of what I’ve learned has come from trying out different recipes at home and learning on the job. I’m passionate about using organic ingredients and I’ve developed recipes without additives, improvers, fat and sugar. We employ six bakers now and I’ve helped train them all, passing on the knowledge I’ve built up.
What’s your role in the company?
We’ve employed a master baker from Hungary, who has brought some fantastic skills to the business, so I’m less hands-on than before. I’ve taken on more of a general manager role, helping with training, new product development and the overall direction of the business. I’m keen for staff to take ownership of their roles. For example, one of our bakers is being trained to look after new products and another is responsible for wholesale. It’s a similar story with the coffee shop staff. We are looking at ways of developing this further, with staff able to buy equity in the company so that, if it performs well, they will benefit.
What’s the secret of your success?
We have an eye for detail and are never happy with what we have achieved. Our products are great and people love them, but it’s impossible to produce the perfect loaf. There’s always something you can improve on.