News that Ready Bready Dough Artisan Breadmaker in Lancer Court is to close on 21st January will disappoint many of the shop’s regular customers.
But there’s good news for customers who want his fresh bread and rolls: Stefan will still sell them from the shop but they should be pre-ordered in advance and collected before midday the next day. Owner Stefan Warwick is continuing to operate his bakery business from the same premises.
Stefan has been supplying bread, cakes and rolls from the Lancer Court bakery for 7 years but, as he explained, people’s eating and shopping habits are changing: “People are eating less bread now – and the recession hasn’t helped. We’re always up against the supermarkets – and I knew that from the beginning. When I opened the shop our business was 50% retail and 50% trade – supplying hotels, chains, conference centres, outside catering companies, restaurants and cafes. Now it’s 30% retail and 70% trade. In the 7 years I’ve been here the percentage of independent bakers has fallen from 13% to 7% – and that’s a big reduction. So this is a restructuring. We’re still going to carry on supplying standing orders, the company is not closing down and our regular customers can pre-order but we’ll no longer have a shop window.”
Staffing the bakery has also been a factor in Stefan’s decision. He said, “We’ve lost one member of staff and recruitment is an issue. If I do my night shift it’s difficult for me to stay on to train new recruits. It’s just not practical to work 20 hours a day. It’s been a tough decision but decisions have to be made. Regulars have been very understanding and very supportive. We’re living in a crazy world – and it’s going to get harder.”
The positive message for the many regular customers is that the shop will be open for them to pick up orders left on the answerphone and collected the next day from 8.30am to 12.00pm. Stefan said, “Our regular customers probably amount to 75% of our trade. Without them we would not have a business. We hope they’ll adapt and order in advance. The good news is that we’re trying to keep the regulars happy.”