Warings celebrated its 75th birthday at the tail end of 2007. And this Reading-based bakery went one better than a 75-candle cake - it treated itself to a birthday gift by splashing out nearly £75k on overhauling one of its five shops. Over the last five years, two of Warings’ five outlets had gone under the knife. But two decades had passed since this location in Tilehurst was last spruced up. With a major bit of nip-and-tuck needed, the brief was to retain a traditional bakery feel, but with modern presentation, and reflect the bakery’s core values; Warings has a small team of bakers that produce by hand from a central bakery, supplying only their own retail outlets. "We like to be unique and keep our products for our shops," says Daniel Carr, learning and development manager, who oversees the 65 staff. "Our bread hasn’t changed a lot since it was originally made - it’s all about being fresh, made today to eat today, with no preservatives or additives. It’s a good old-fashioned loaf of bread." Carr says the management set itself a budget at £70,000, which involved closing the shop for eight days and stripping the floors, the walls and the ceiling back to the bone. They then re-imagined a fresh layout, shifting the takeaway from the back of the shop to the front. Crucially, it reduced the amount of counter space by half in order to give the appearance of being full all day, and restocking little and often. "When we last fitted, the idea was to have as much counter space as possible and get everything out in the morning; we ran with that for many years. The shops looked fantastic... but only up until about 11am. As soon as the lunchtime trade hit, there was too much space to fill. "We will now have our warrior lines on shelf until the end of day, so it will always appear to be stocked, even if we’ve only got half an hour of trading left. It never looks empty, which is what we found in the old shop." New kit purchases included: a panini grill for on-the-go morning toasties; soup kettles for hot fresh soups, popular with office workers; and a £5,000 investment in a fresh ground coffee machine. The latter, a special offer from Bako London, came with barista training, signalling a step up from its previous Nescafé instant coffee machines and introducing an element of theatre in-store, says Carr. "If somebody’s ordering a coffee, the grinder’s going and you’ve got the smell and the aroma, the person behind them in the queue will say, ’Fantastic, I’ll have one of them!’ If they’re picking up hot coffee, they’ll maybe buy a bacon and cheese turnover on the move too. The firm used Bakeline on its last two refits and was pleased with the results. They seem to be in tune with what we want; they’ve got experience outside the UK. A lot of us now look for that Continental style." PLAN FOR OTHER STORES The plan now is to fit the remaining two shops within two years. "It’s important to put money back into the business, says Carr. "Customers demand a good shopping experience. Not only that, but having a refit can make the whole process of food hygiene regulations - how to look after your unit and keep it clean - so much quicker and easier." Italians bring style to sweet pastry shop Located in Sarzana, a small but beautiful town close to La Spezia in Northern Italy, and tucked in a basement location of an historical building, is a pastry shop-cum ice cream parlour-cum chocolate emporium, with a few modern twists on shop design. There is a glitzy grotto-like ambience in this emporium, which specialises in cakes, cookies and jams, made with natural ingredients, all created by store owners Daniele and Cristina Marselli. Situated off a pedestrianised zone in the town, the bare brick arches make good use of an original feature of the building, which took a month to fit. The furniture mixes simple elements: the wooden counter; shelves made from glass and iroko wood; and a central area for showcasing products. Clever features include showing off hand-craft techniques to passers-by outside the shop via a video placed at the entrance. Inside, you can see the craftsmen at work first-hand, with glass windows giving a view straight through to the "laboratory". The shop, which has two glass entrances (the trickiest elements of the fit, given the stone vaults), boasts an ice-cream counter on the left and a pastry counter to the right. In the centre is a chocolate showcase, made to resemble a precious jewellery shop window. And the shop’s name? A fusion of the owners’ daughters’ names - Giulia and Beatrice (Giu-Bea). Their names are further used to brand the cookies, which are presented in packaging made by Tub Design illustrated with original graphics and fuchsia and brown colours. Address: Via Cigala 28, 19038 Sarzana (SP) Italy Design and furniture: Costa Group