The Hummingbird Bakery has revealed exclusively to British Baker that it will open up at least one new shop in London this year and plans to expand into selling its own non-food merchandising.
British Baker spoke with Tarek Malouf, managing director of the bakery business based in the capital, at a special event yesterday (6 March) at its Spitalfields store. The event saw the official launch of The Hummingbird Bakery’s third recipe book, Home Sweet Home, which focuses on a mix of American-style recipes coming straight from the company’s five retail outlets.
Malouf told British Baker: “Sales of the new book have done really well so far: last week it was number one in the non-fiction hardback list. Home baking is the overarching theme of the past couple of years, or maybe even longer, but the thirst for cupcakes is rising and they are still increasingly appealing to consumers.”
He added that sales growth has been encouraging for the year, as the company saw its turnover increase from £2.45m in 2010/11, to £5.1m in 2011/12.
In a bid to continue the growth in turnover, Malouf explained the company will look to open up one shop in London in the next 12 months.
He said: “We will definitely open up one new shop this year, but probably no more than one. I’m not a fan of opening multiple shops at the same time – we are not the Starbucks of cupcakes, so we cannot do that. Not only that, the product quality would deteriorate if we expanded too rapidly, and that’s something I am really careful to protect.”
He added that merchandising would be another route in which to help the future financial performance of the company: “We are exploring other income streams, such as some non-food merchandising to see if it will be viable and if there is a market for that.”
Malouf revealed that the company caters for a number of different markets, including weddings and corporate customers: “We have been doing wedding cake consultations for about four or five years, but it is only in the past year that we have actively had a special department for it with consultants and a manager leading that, as well as a target for sales. It’s growing in popularity.
“With our corporate business, we have a team who focus on it so that we don’t take our eye off the ball from our everyday retail sales. But there is definitely room for growth, it’s not a high percentage of our business, but it is something to still take note of.”
The firm has recently invested around £200,000 in updating its first store, located in Notting Hill, which features the company’s new store design. This include the restructuring of its counters for improved flow of customer traffic and disabled access, as well as updates to the kitchen area with additional dry and chilled storage capacity to enable the branch to better cope with increasing demand.
Last year, The Hummingbird Bakery ventured into the Middle East, which is the firm’s first international store and is based in The Dubai Mall.
Malouf explained: “Moving into Dubai last year was an important move, because we love working with our franchisee and we have a good following in the Gulf where the first store opened in Dubai, so our name has been known there. More importantly, we had to prepare a huge amount of procedures and manuals, and everything had to be written in stone, and that was good for us and our UK operation, because for the first time we had to put everything down on paper.”
He added that the company plans to open further branches in Dubai, as part of a franchise agreement with Daud Arabian, anticipating that Hummingbird Bakery outlets could open in such locations as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Lebanon over the next 10 years.
Cake on wheels
Last year saw Hummingbird Bakery introduce its first mobile bakery unit, which made an appearance at a number of UK events in 2012. This included the Lovebox Festival in London’s Victoria Park, as well as the Isle of Wight Festival, Latitude Festival, V Festival and Bestival.
The firm said it is currently in the process of filling up a schedule for its mobile unit for the year, and is expecting to debut the bakery on wheels at a number of music festivals, sports events and a variety of other large-scale outdoor gatherings in 2013.
Malouf said the mobile unit must be a highlight for the year ahead: “I think we attended around six or seven events last summer, but we have to double or triple that throughout this whole year between May and December. It has to make its money.”