Founded in 1994, Cornish Bakery now has more than 50 outlets across the UK. Founder Steve Grocutt speaks to World Coffee Portal about why high streets present the greatest opportunities for growth, the importance of premium coffee and why bakeries are the new coffee shops
Steve Grocutt, Founder, Cornish Bakery
How would you describe your current trading?
Steady. For the first time since the pandemic trading really feels quite normal – if we can all remember what that is!
Looking at our market segments, tourism boomed in 2021 then dropped in 2022 but remained ahead of 2019 levels. High streets are performing very well and above our expectations, with sales higher than the previous year. I believe high street stores provide our greatest opportunity for growth.
Additionally, our operations at the NEC exhibition centre in Birmingham are booming, which is really positive considering our sites there were closed for two years due to the pandemic.
Our expansion is primarily focused on high streets in quality towns and cities, with new stores set to open shortly in Bury St Edmunds and Truro and several more that will be announced soon.
In high footfall tourism locations, we are also set to open outlets in Bakewell and Whitby. To drive our expansion plans we now have two agents on a brief to find us the ideal buildings in the ideal locations.
“It’s very important to us that the coffee we serve is directly sourced and of the highest quality”
What prompted your recent rebranding?
The rebranding was driven by our corporate change in direction to more mainstream high street locations.
Our previous branding said: ‘Cross the threshold and you are in Cornwall wherever the bakery may be. You’re on holiday relax take some Cornish moments.’
The new branding is more ‘of Cornwall’ as it were, where we purposefully dialled down the brand and dialled up the bakery. The change is already delivering powerful results.
How important is coffee to a food-focused operator like Cornish Bakery?
Many trends changed during the pandemic, driven mostly by the domination of take-away sales. We now see most of our post-pandemic growth coming from coffee.
It’s very important to us that the coffee we serve is directly sourced and of the highest quality. Almost from the start we have worked with Union Hand Roasted Coffee and enjoyed the journey together. I am delighted to see their success in achieving B Corp accreditation, winning the Queens Award for Enterprise and being the winner of the Best Specialty Coffee Roaster and Most Ethical Brand at the 2022 at the European Coffee Awards.
Additionally, there are team origin trips where our teams meet the farmers and cooperatives. The next trip is planned for May this year to Rwanda. These trips actively involve and engage our committed employees and help us all see the difference that Union makes in the world thanks to the way they source their coffee.
“We simply want to nourish our customers with the freshest possible quality food washed down by the best imaginable coffee”
How are you elevating the bakery experience?
In 2019 I would have been walking up and down high streets murmuring to myself: ‘Why are there are no quality bakeries here?’
I saw it as a big opportunity to offer the customer something different where the food was as good as it could ever be – made and baked in-store daily in ‘feature-kitchens’ by passionate teams.
Our vision is ‘to redefine what a bakery does and can be’, We see this as an open door to create a bakery that is different. We are not your local bakery to get your daily bread, in fact we do not even sell bread. We simply want to nourish our customers with the freshest possible quality food washed down by the best imaginable coffee. This is why my continual mantra is: ‘Bakery is the new coffee shop,’ and we continue to prove that every single day.