The company behind one of Cornwall’s most recognisable pasty brands has vowed to open 1,000 pasty shops in the UK and beyond in the next 10 years.
Warrens Bakery, the oldest pasty company in the world, is on an expansion curve and is now hoping to move away from its home county to conquer the UK – and the world.
Mark Sullivan, chief executive of Provenance Brands, which owns a group of highly recognisable Cornish food brands, including Simply Cornish biscuits, Cornish Seaweed and Cornish Sea Salt, was keynote speaker at the Connected Cornwall business conference held at Healey’s Cyder Farm.
Warrens bakery’s owners Provenance Brands wants to open 1,00 new stores in the next 10 years (Image: Warrens Bakery)
He said Warrens Bakery had become a bit ‘lacklustre’ a few years ago until the brand was revived and revamped under the auspices of Provenance Brands.
Now the company is franchising out and is set to open several stores in London and more throughout the UK.
Mr Sullivan told the audience of business leaders and entrepreneurs: “We’re the leading craft baker in the UK. We want to have 250 stores open over the next five years and go up to 1,000 in the five years after that.
“We want to get the whole ‘Bake Off’ population interested in craft bakery as we’re not just about pasties but also about craft breads and cakes.”
Warrens Bakery is looking to open 1,000 new shops over the next decade (Image: Warrens Bakery)
The firm, which employs 600 staff in Cornwall, has proved a true ambassador for the county around the globe with brands such as Cornish Sea Salt and its Great British Crisps Company, which includes unusual flavours like Tikka Masala and Cornish pasty, which have been a hit in Asia and Africa.
“Not only did we rebrand Cornish Crisps Company into the Great British Crisps Company,” said Mr Sullivan, “But we reflavoured them.
“The crisps sector is a very busy space and rather than pit ourselves against Kettle and Burts, we created new flavours like our full English breakfast crisps, which have been a slow burner in the UK but have done well in places like Africa or China.”
The crisps anecdote is one Mr Sullivan said epitomises Provenance Brands’ attitude to business. which involves exporting to new markets and using the image of Cornwall in markets such as Germany or Holland where people are fond of the county and using the Great Britain imagery in markets where all things British work a treat.
Great British Crisps Company’s unusual flavoured crisps – English breakfast crisps anyone? (Image: Great British Crisps Company)
He added: “It’s probably easier to break into Singapore and its 5.6m people than it is to break into the Bristol market which is a tenth of the size.
“People around the world love Brand GB. We’ve seen high growth in our exports to international markets which in turn is good for our local markets. You can take your products to the rest of the world without the need to be successful in London or the rest of the UK.
“If you bring back your products to the UK the UK will see they have missed a trick and get on board.”
Mr Sullivan said the group’s spearhead brand Cornish Sea Salt’s international trade market share had only been about 10% in 2013, but has since grown to 28% in 2017 and will reach 50% or more in a few years’ time.
The Cornish Seaweed Company produces a range of products made from sustainably hand-harvested organic Cornish seaweed
He added: “We have spent four or five years creating a platform for our brands but now that’s in place we can create a really exciting group for the future. But to grow you need to spend money.
“We have spent £1.4m in capital spent to grow our manufacturing capability, on revamping our Warrens Bakery in St Just and by investing on our people – our human capital.
“Being able to equip people fro different jobs and roles rather than slash the cost of staff has been beneficial to our staff and to us.
“We can move our staff around to face future challenges.”
Mr Sullivan said Provenance Brands decided to go into cosmetics when it realised it had all the ingredients it needs as well as the knowhow ans skilled staff.
Six months ago it set up Living Sea Therapy on the advice of GPs, dentists and luxuries hotels and spas, and started producing beauty products made from seas salt and sustainably hand-harvested organic Cornish seaweed and unique minerals only found in three places around the world including Cornwall.
Living Sea Therapy is the latest brand launched by Provenance brands and its Cornish beauty range products have been flying off the shelves especially in Asia and Europe (Image: Living Sea Therapy)
Mr Sullivan said: “It is sustainable, recyclable and truly unique to Cornwall. It’s like taking the sea to cities and taking a little bit of the Cornish coastal experience to cities.
“Again it has been a slow burner in the UK but it’s been phenomenal in other countries. Now we need to throw more capital at it to maximise our sales. I know that if we get it right we will move into a whole range of beauty products, hair, facials, cosmetics.
“Again we can’t do this without looking after our staff. We offer careers and good jobs, training prospects because we know that if it’s good for the community it’s good for us too.”
Source: Cornwall Live