After suffering several years of sales decline, the organic bakery sector received some much-needed good news last month after upmarket food retailers Daylesford Organic and Planet Organic revealed plans to open dozens of new stores.

Daylesford CEO Jamie Mitchell said he plans to launch a chain of six to 10 new convenience store-sized outlets in London and the south west, with organic bread, baked at the retailer’s Cotswolds farm, a key part of the offer. The company has also launched a ’virtual farm shop’ on the Ocado website.

Meanwhile, organic supermarket Planet Organic has opened a fifth store in Devonshire Square, East London, and CEO Peter Marsh wants to open another 20 across the capital in the next five years. The shops sell organic bread from Celtic Bakers and Paul, plus puddings from The Village Bakery, and have seen total sales grow 30% in the past two years.

"This is great news for the organic market and ultimately great news for us," said Celtic Bakers MD Tom Russell.

According to the Soil Asso-ciation’s 2011 Organic Report, the market for organic bakery fell by nearly 17% last year, following a 40% decline in 2009. Last year’s slump far outstripped the overall decline of the organic market, which fell 5.9%. Indeed, organic bakery products were the second-biggest loser in the sector, with only organic chilled convenience products seeing a larger decline.

However, Russell said the figures did not necessarily reflect what was happening in stores such as Daylesford and Planet Organic. "A lot of the drop in the market was because supermarkets withdrew organic lines, but the core organic shoppers have never gone away."