In his first blog for 2014, Gerhard Jenne discusses how to turn consumer New Year’s resolutions into profit.
Looking at recent transaction numbers and comparing them to those of previous years, we find that more and more customers take the two weeks over the Christmas period as holidays.
With a bit of luck, things will return to some kind of normality this week. Our shops mainly service the working population of London – lawyers, bankers and media types, with a sprinkling of other professions and residents for good measure. So far I can report that the bankers in the City (our shop is in the Gherkin) have returned to work in higher numbers – perhaps encouraged by the positive economic forecasts given for 2014 – there’s money to be made.
It appears that the media types working around our stores on the South Bank and Bankside must still be enjoying some last-minute powder snow in the Alps. Meanwhile, the legal eagles serviced by our shop near Grays Inn Square appear to be firmly hibernating, or perhaps this year they are stuck in the muddy fields of the country. As for us, we have learnt that it is absolutely paramount to keep a very close eye on our own staffing levels, trading hours and production numbers in those days after Christmas and New Year.
As if holidays weren’t enough, everyone has made New Year’s resolutions about being healthy and losing weight. Gym memberships soar, personal trainers fill up their diaries - has anyone spared a thought for us bakers and cake-makers?
The printed media is full of dieting advice too. Last year it was the 5:2 diet that made the headlines. This gave us the chance to sell some cakes at least five days a week, while the calorie intake was reduced on the remaining two. No rich, gooey chocolate brownies on those days, then!
A few years back, our January motto was a cheeky ‘Say No To Diets’ – and did very well. This year we thought times had changed sufficiently to promote our free-from products. I was pleased to read on the British Baker’s own pages that free-from products are one of the trends for 2014. I would definitely agree. Wheat-free cakes such as Almond St Clements, Hazelnut Chocolate and nut-bursting wheat-free cupcakes have joined egg-free and wheat-free muesli slices and Florentines. Aside from that, there’s always a wheat-free Raspberry Almond Baby Cake to nibble on. You may have noticed that I don’t use the word ‘gluten-free’ – this is because we cannot bake in a 100% gluten-free environment and thus can only declare it as wheat-free. Many other cereals and flours contain gluten, including oats and rye.
We are also baking a sugar-free mini treat, and a fruit cake where all the sweetness comes from natural fruit. With this one, we seem to be bang on the money for getting around this year’s diet advice. Two national papers’ headlines were screaming that sugar is the culprit that wrecks people’s health and waistlines!
There are obvious and hidden sugars in our modern foods, and a combination diet of ketchup-splashed caramelised bacon donuts, sprinkled with marshmallows and washed down with fizzy drinks, is not recommended. Everything in moderation and a healthy balance has always been our motto. This is why we are also offering fresh fruit salads and are promoting healthier breakfast choices, such as heart-warming porridge, as well as fresh hearty soups for lunch to our customers.
My prediction for 2014 is that we have to stay innovative, but also that those mouthwatering fudge-packed brownies with their melt-in-your-mouth salted caramel topping will be the winning formula.