Colony Member Spotlight: The Bread Factory
5 July 2023
Our member spotlight series continues with an introduction to The Bread Factory: an award-winning artisan bread, cake and pastry supplier linked to the recently opened GAIL'S Bakery in Manchester.
COLONY MEMBERS SPOTLIGHT BLOG: The Bread Factory
The Bread Factory: some of you may have heard the name floating around Colony Jactin House (where the team is based) but most of you will recognise The Bread Factory's delicious baked goods from our community brunches.
We sat down with The Bread Factory team, Daryl and Shannon, to talk about where the company began and where it's going: including links to the infamous GAIL'S Bakery, recently opened on King Street in Manchester.
How did The Bread Factory come about?
Daryl: “The Bread Factory started about thirty years ago in London by a woman named Gail Stevens. In the early nineties, processed bread was breaking through with the likes of Warburtons and Hovis. Gail saw this and thought 'I really just want to go back to basics!' She wanted to make good, quality, handmade bread, and that was it. She started her sourdough starter, and here we are!
"Gail's The Bread Factory quickly found success – she was in with a lot of the big chefs in London at the time, so through this The Bread Factory was born."
How long has The Bread Factory been in Manchester?
"The Bread Factory moved to Manchester about six years ago as a completely separate operation – just us and our ginormous tub of sourdough starter!
"We opened up a small bakery in Openshaw, which is still there and about a tenth of the size of the one in London. Even though it’s a tiny space, we are a big production. We have about ten bakers, whereas we started with three. Surprisingly, we grew substantially during the Covid-19 pandemic. During that time we grew about 100%.”
Why do you think growth was so significant during this period?
Daryl: “It was a really difficult time for everyone. Those that did stay open were the businesses that were stable. During the pandemic, a lot of people wanted to know where their food came from and what was in their food; where it was sourced and if it was local – The Bread Factory are all of those things. Everything’s handmade, hand shaped and hand scored."
Is the market different in London vs Manchester?
Daryl: “I don’t think as much anymore. We’re seeing a lot of London-based companies moving up to Manchester. You see it in the Manchester skyline – it's always changing. You’ve got the likes of Soho House, Boxpark, Gordon Ramsey, Elan – so many London based companies now in Manchester.”
Have you noticed a big impact on your business?
Daryl: “Massively so. Manchester is catching up to London prices and we’re more similar to the ‘London’ way of life now. We see that with Gail’s.
"GAIL'S Bakery is under the same umbrella as The Bread Factory. We’ve got GAIL'S locations open in Wilmslow, Didsbury, Altrincham and King Street, and we’re opening in Knutsford soon.
Since coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve noticed that people want good quality produce from local companies.
"You get to build those relationships with your customers and people want to continue to work with you, and support you. We never want to lose that personal touch. Big operation, but still small-business ethos."
Shannon: “Customer care is so important for us. Our accounts have that assurance that The Bread Factory team is always there for them.”
Daryl: “The clients we have up North, we have great relationships with. We had no clients in the North until we moved to Manchester and opened the Openshaw bakery. Now, we cater a lot of the 5* hotels around the city. We have some great clients."
Do you have an account you’re most proud of?
Daryl: “All of them…. Oh, that’s such a hard question! That sounds like such a cheesy answer but we really mean it.”
Shannon: “I think Kong’s NQ has done really well. We’ve worked with them for three years. They started with a little pop-up and now they’ve opened a hugely successful store in Northern Quarter. And Bread Factory have been a part of that journey – the team is great, they’re lovely.
"It’s really nice to follow that journey with them. It’s great to see them grow”.
Daryl: “We also work with already established customers and we’re able to be involved in menu development. We’re so proud to work with high-profile Manchester institutions – we also work with The Kimpton, The Midland, 20 Stories and Hotel Gotham.”
What do you think makes The Bread Factory successful?
Shannon: “It is all about the people. You need people who are passionate, especially in the kitchen. It’s a hard job. You need quality, and consistency.”
Daryl: “I think it’s the people in Manchester.”
Shannon: “The community is fantastic and the food scene is great in Manchester. There's such a variety. By having a base in Ancoats, you can see this variety straight away.”
Daryl: “Working at Colony is a brilliant representation of this too. The community aspect is great. The team at Colony are really helpful – they’re always trying to connect everybody, trying to give people a platform, plus the space and time to collaborate and network. We love the weekly update emails.”
Shannon “The events are great. We support Colony with the member’s brunches, which is always busy! And it’s so great to see. You meet so many people from all kinds of backgrounds.”
Daryl: “Seeing the variety of businesses within Colony shows you the scope in the city. You feel connected to Manchester itself by being in the Colony spaces."
Shannon: “We’ve met some really interesting businesses in the break-out spaces and at the events”.
Daryl: “We actually have some exciting event ideas…more Colony community collaborations coming soon….”
The Bread Factory is running mini-events across a few Colony sites in September, where members are able to taste some of their famous sourdough bread. Find out more about the 'Sourdough September' events on the portal.
You can find out more about The Bread Factory and their exciting connections on their website.
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