Ozone family member, Patrick More, shares his 'milestone moments' in creating More? the artisan bakery.
In order to advance, you need to give a nod to the past…
I grew up in the town of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, on the tip of the Furness peninsula. Shipbuilding was the goal of most aspiring school leavers, so I had to arm wrestle the careers officer in order to persuade him that all I wanted to do was cook. I dreamt of being a chef, of travelling the world and escaping the blaring yard horn that sounded each time the workers crept in and out of the yard. Running like ants, they would jump on their bikes and pedal like hell to escape and get home to their wives, sweethearts and families… or maybe just the pub.
Although I was looking to escape, don’t think I didn’t love Barrow – I did. I was charmed by its individuality, beaches, history, interesting people and intoxicated by the rich variation of people that lived there. Although I was born in Germany, I have always been proud to call myself a “Barrovian” – I just never really fitted in.
I remember, when I was nine years old, going for a long bike ride with friends along the coast road to Ulverston. We stopped at a little farm and asked the farmer for some water – where of course he happily obliged. He looked extremely worldly and wise. As I drank, he asked me casually “What do you want to do?’’ I didn’t understand the question. He said again “What do you want to do with your life?” I explained I didn’t know, and he leaned toward me and, almost whispering, said “Find something you enjoy doing and get someone to pay you to do it!” I remember his happy smiling face as he said it. I said thank you and hopped back on my bike. As I rode off waving, he said it again. I thought about this for quite some time afterwards and am certain it has had a huge impact on my life.
The beginning of the journey that led to the bakery was when I was poached from my chef whites to manage production at a little craft bakery. I wasn’t impressed and decided I could definitely do better – sowing the seed for More?. Then, with the birth of my daughter Milly, I did a year of consultancy and with this revenue (and a supportive wife) we decided to make the bakery a part-time job for me and she would return to work full-time. How did I not know I wouldn’t be able to keep it part-time?! The initial two days a week steadily increased to six or seven and production had the house at bursting point. We were producing 300 loaves a day and rack after rack of pastry and confectionery products. The house was a bustling hive of activity and three years passed in a flash of flour dust. The garage was now a storeroom and we produced to our absolute capacity.
I decided to call the business More? The Artisan Bakery.Initially, we concentrated more on fine patisserie products and seasonal items, as our oven space could be better utilized for this way. I dreamed of selling the kind of breads I loved to create – additive-free, long process breads that actually tasted of something – full of flavour and nutritional value. We began by selling at farmers markets and food festivals and soon we were in our local supermarket.
We then invested 80k, re-mortgaged our family home and demolished three rooms to make a hybrid home kitchen and professional bakery. We decided we would invest heavily in movable equipment and if all went to plan, we would move into a fit for purpose unit within two or three years.
I wanted to create something professionally dazzling and lustrous. I wanted to raise the bar on the cheap penny-pinching imitations of real food that was crowding the supermarket shelves and high street food outlets. I wanted to rid the country of food that wasn’t truthful in its claims and origins. I wanted to have the ability to easily get the amazing products I could create as a chef.
In 2009, we won ‘Supreme Champion’ at The Great Taste Awards for our gluten free Muddee. BOOM! A moment that had a massive impact on the growth of the business. I remember vividly standing in Fortnum & Mason when Bob Farrand announced the winner and proclaimed, “their lives would be changed forever”! How right he was – suddenly, stores the length and breadth of the country wanted our products, and the Queen’s grocer insisted we supply them! Praise indeed; this gave us the confidence to invest all and take our business to the next level. The following year we won the highest accolade for bread – the coveted Speciality Bread product of the year – with our Lakeland treacle bread with walnuts and raisins securing the award.
When I decided to start the business, I honestly thought setting it up would be the most difficult part. The truth is, I don’t think there is any easy part. We have grown year-on-year from a single man operation to now employing 26 staff. We are lucky to have dedicated individuals in all of our departments who are willing to develop both the business and themselves. For us, these are the best forms of relationships – where we evolve in unison and are proud of making a difference. We don’t create cheap imitations of products, we produce the real deal. Our ethic is simple – if it doesn’t taste great, we won’t make it.
I remember meeting James and Lizzie at the London Coffee Festival and tasting their amazing coffee. While it was the best I’d ever tasted, the important thing for me was that I had met like-minded individuals – people who wanted to make a difference and were genuinely excited and immersed in the journey, no matter what. I had met passionate individuals who had a similar background.
Our business has had many milestones, which have been as varied as a new piece of equipment, new premises, a major expansion plan or significant investment. They are all significant moments on our journey and whilst the milestones seem bigger as we grow (and there is less time to enjoy the progress) it’s always up.
BELOW IS A LIST OF OUR MOST SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS IN THE STORY OF MORE? THE ARTISAN BAKERY:
– Had the idea! Formed the basis of the bakery model including using the family estate car for deliveries and transport to farmers markets and events.
– Raised capital and created a business plan that was surprisingly accurate!
– We spent 17, 000 on a van! I worried for a long time on this, considering carefully whether to purchase or not? It seemed like such a lot of money – we didn’t even turnover that much in our second year of trade.
– Runner up “Reserve” Supreme Champion at The Great Taste awards and Chris Evans endorses our products.
– Employ a part-time team member to help deliver products so I could further develop new ideas (and get some sleep).
– Supreme champion at The Great Taste Awards.
– Runner up for speciality bread product of the year at the Baking Industry Awards.
– Moved into purpose built bakery in Staveley Mill Yard, Lake District and invested heavily in equipment, staff and training.
– I am sleeping many nights in an old sleeping bag next to the oven, whilst waiting for my last loaves to bake.
– WINNER Speciality bread product of the year Baking Industry Awards.
– An increase in demand sees turnover increase by 80%
– We employ 6 new staff, taking the workforce to 16!
– We double turnover but profit is low and margins provide our worst results for any year to date.
– We learn the hard way about which products have a major impact on labour cost – and trim accordingly.
– Majorly significant (and life changing) personal levels of investment drives the business to new production possibilities.
– We employ an amazing and vastly experienced Operations Director to further develop the team, also helping to create brand strategy and identify product strength.
– We refurbish our café and bakery shop to showcase our products.
– We employ two new delivery drivers and a graduate to further develop core management.
– We buy three new vans…
– We create a further five full-time roles in the bakery and shop.
– We now have 23 staff and the bakery is humming.
– We continue to develop our products and establish firm roots with 3rd party supply into food service, supplying some of the greatest UK culinary destinations with bread and pastry options.
– We develop a brand strategy and plan to work in line with the changing needs of the industry.
– Every product and section of the company have fantastic core skills and independent management. This gives me the opportunity to oversee, outwardly scrutinize and adapt to new strategies and goal setting.
– Improvement on core KPIs.
– Hold onto your hats and fasten your seatbelts.