Mark Sheath is to leave his post as technical sales manager at Rich Products UK at the end of February, to run his own craft bakery in West Sussex.
Having previously worked at Kate’s Cakes, Sheath said it had always been his dream to have his own bakery. “Whether that was to start my own bakery from scratch, or to buy an existing business, and build it up,” he explained.
Following a meeting with 2012 BIA Baker of the Year Bob Burns, who encouraged him to “stop talking about it, and just go for it”, Sheath is now due to pick up the keys to Jengers Bakery in Billingshurst on 1 March, when the current owners retire.
“The current owners have run it for 25 years. There is a small bakery at the back, and the shop at the front,” he said. “It also has 18 wholesale customers.”
Renaming it Jengers Craft Bakery, Sheath said he will have a very hands-on roll at the bakery, at least at the start, but may look to take on apprentice in the future.
“It looks like a good business, and hopefully I can build on it with my knowledge,” said Sheath. “I have been baking with the current owners on a Friday night for about six months, so I can learn how they do things.”
He said the bakery has a very traditional product offering, which he will continue to produce. However, he said he will look to use some of the skills and expertise from his time in the industry to introduce additional products, particularly on the cake side, such as cupcakes and brownies.
Sheath said his wife will be joining him in running the business in the future, and the seven existing staff will all transfer to the new business.
Speaking about how to get into the baking industry at a careers evening at local school The Weald, in Billingshurst, this week, Sheath said he offered a couple of placements to students keen to get involved “as that’s how I started out”.