Beau’s Bakehouse, a small bakery based near Stroud, was created by Jacqui Cowper-Smith in 2009. This new business enabled Jacqui to develop her great passion for traditional baking, and quickly became a vehicle to share her outstanding cakes and bakes with an ever-growing number of delighted customers.
Beau’s Bakehouse believes in using the best natural ingredients, locally sourced where possible, to make the best tasting products, freshly-baked and packed by hand. These are sold across a range of local supermarkets, shops, and cafés, as well as through internet sales direct to consumers.
Initially, SWMAS was introduced to Beau’s Bakehouse by the Gloucestershire Growth Hub, with whom SWMAS often work closely to identify the best possible ways to help businesses. At the time, Beau’s Bakehouse was looking at ways to expand into wider markets and increase sales through rebranding and website development.
SWMAS was able to provide grant funding towards the cost of this transformational improvement project. This rebranding, alongside website development, proved to be a much-needed catalyst for growth and as a result, the business has doubled its number of employees in less than 18 months.
This welcomed increase in demand nevertheless resulted in new challenges. With space at a premium in the bakery, and with a requirement for greater output, a new focus on operational efficiency was essential. Again, SWMAS were able to advise on effective utilisation of facilities and staff, and provided ongoing coaching and mentoring to the team, improving productivity and adopting positive change.
The impact of COVID-19
has been challenging for the business, as many of their usual retail customers have seen a significant reduction in footfall due to lockdown measures. However, through their updated website, and with an increased focus on internet sales, production levels have been maintained. Beau’s Bakehouse also found an innovative, additional sales opportunity over the lockdown period, producing an ‘Isolation Hamper’ for home delivery. This contains a range of their delicious cakes and bakes for those unable to leave the house, or those who are just in need of a treat through these troubled times. In addition, a new range of cookies have been introduced, which have proven to be particularly successful.
As is the case for many manufacturing businesses, the next challenge on the horizon is Brexit. Fortunately, Beau’s Bakehouse focusses on using locally sourced products, so the impact of Brexit will be minimal. However, the fine Belgian chocolate used in some of their cakes comes from the EU, so additional inventory will be procured to ensure any potential supply issues are alleviated. Going forward, the possibility of tariffs increasing cost has been considered and the impact from this is as yet unknown.
The future outlook is positive for this business, as sales will continue to increase when their customer base returns to normal.
Alun James, Manufacturing Specialist