Despite the closure of its Tudor Arcade shop this week, Town Mill Bakery is looking to the future with the opening of a new shop in Plymouth in October and plans for additional bakeries.
Its Dorchester shop in South Street was forced to close on Monday (5 September) after high increases in rent and business rates left owner Clive Cobb with no other option.
He blamed “greed” for the closure of the outlet, and said he had been frustrated in his attempt to reverse a 61% rise in rent, and 53% in business rates, which came into effect last October.
Cobb told British Baker that while he was paying £30 per sq ft for rent and £20 per sq ft for business rates at his Dorchester restaurant, it was struggling to make £200k a year, while at his Lyme Regis shop, he has been paying £10 per sq ft for rent, and taking around £350k.
From now on, he said he would not look to open outlets in an area, simply because it was perceived to have high footfall, but would look to open in places that people like to go and visit, relax and have fun, and that don’t cost a fortune to visit.
“Landlords charge you for what they perceive as footfall,” said Cobb. “But on the high street, footfall is falling due to a lack of inspiring places to go, and also the issue of paying for parking in town. It’s like having to have an admission ticket to go into your own town centre.”
Cobb added that he’d noticed a lot less customers walking past his door in recent times, and a lot with less money.
The new site in The Royal William Yard in Plymouth is due to open on 14 October, and Cobb has plans to open another bakery in Poundbury in the near future.
He said the Plymouth site would open under a different name - The Royal William Bakery, and feature different branding to the Town Mill Bakery, which he said would also be part of the new business model going forward.
“I want the shops to develop their own personalities, and be places that encourage relationships with their customers, rather than just transactions,” explained Cobb.