Nick Harris

MD, BFP Wholesale

Innovation is a key part of every retailer’s armoury, but is it as important as it should be to the baker on the high street? As a bakery retailer, how often should you change your portfolio or introduce a new line? Does a new line always mean that you delete a slow-moving line to make room in your display cabinets?

Disappointingly, when proposing new ideas to our customers, we are often told that the product "won’t sell to my customers", or even "My customers won’t try anything new". If these statements are true, then why do the most successful retailers constantly renew and refresh their portfolios?

The retailer that does not innovate and change is limiting their range to their existing customers and will struggle to attract new people through their doors. Successful high street businesses are those that constantly refresh and update their products and offers. During a recent survey of regional bakeries, we were surprised to see how many were not selling cake pops or, even more surprisingly, the number not selling cupcakes. Visit any national coffee shop and see how much space they give to these two lines to not sell them in a high street shop must be excluding some potential customers.

On a different note, I recently asked some of our clients how they describe themselves to their customers as a craft baker, an artisan baker, a master baker or just a baker? But can your customers tell the difference? They shop with you because you offer them consistent quality, good flavour and well-presented items at a price they consider correct. So ask them what you are, and they will simply say you are their local baker, whom they use regularly and are pleased to recommend to their friends.