Recession? What recession! Any suggestions that craft bakery might be feeling the bite of the economic downturn were put on hold at the recent Bako London & South East open day, as a record turnout of suppliers and customers celebrated the wholesaler’s 50th anniversary.
The vibrant event was Bako London’s biggest ever open day, attracting more than 250 customers - over four times the number that have attended similar past events. It also featured its largest ever showcase of suppliers, many of which reported strong leads from enthusiastic visitors. This demanded three marquees to house them all instead of the usual one marquee, and Bako’s test bakery was tested to the max.
"We planned it for a year and it took some organising," said general manager Maureen Martin. "The most we’ve had on a show was 15 suppliers. We really went hell for leather to encourage more suppliers, and 60 of them supported us. The day was really buzzing and people got out of it what they came for."
The varied products on show ranged from pies to cake mixes to drinks to packaging. "Our range includes 2,500 products, and we showed a good selection of that," said Maureen Martin. "Suppliers also came with new products, ideas and show offers."
There were a number of firsts to be sampled, - from a new range of smoothies launched by Juice Burst, to newcomer Flourwise, a gluten- and wheat-free specialist that makes everything from scones to cakes, pastries and breads.
But the high point of the day was the prize draw, as the crowd waited with baited breath to find out which visitors had won the three prizes on offer: a weekend in Blackpool, a holiday on Australia’s Gold Coast and a brand new Mini Cooper. A stunned Harshad Shah of Fosters Foods drove away the grand prize (yes, Bako even taxed and insured it). And, in a neat twist, it transpired that it was both Harshad’s and the Mini’s 50th birthday year.