A bakery celebrates its silver anniversary this year, at a time when it has never been more focused on the present.
Saker Bakery, at Lydgate, Todmorden, spent its first two decades as a wholesale artisan vegetarian bakery, supplying bread and other goodies to shops around the north and down as far as Birmingham in the Midlands.
But in the last few years founder baker Karl Badger and his team have found themselves concentrating more on baking for the two shops it has opened locally, in Market Street, Hebden Bridge, and then at Burnley Road, Todmorden, which have given the business a fresh focus, showcasing the bakery products alongside increasingly popular wholefoods selections.
Saker will mark its 25th year on Saturday, September 27, which will feature some music and lots of samples of the bread and cakes it makes, and a special event at 4pm at each of the shops.
A baker for 30 years, Karl gives some thought to the journey but it is the present and future that occupy he and his team most.
“All the time it has been a battle, it’s never been easy. It is much harder getting the right team together and, starting from a year ago, it has come together. I think it’s not the journey, it’s where you are at right now,” he said.
The decision to open the two shops - investing around £30,000 to open two new businesses in the Calder Valley in the process - was a major change of direction.
“We have survived and done really well, but felt we weren’t moving forward. We had learned about wholesaling bread and pastries over 20 years but I was suspecting we had had the best years.
“We opened the Hebden Bridge shop on a small scale, then the Todmorden shop and concentrated on retailing. We’ve taken a little step backwards to the old wholefood shops by bagging up goods ourselves,” he said.
Although there was an established wholefoods market among Hebden Bridge customers Todmorden was harder to guage but it had become clear the time was now right, and display improvements at both shops had also reaped dividends.
“In Todmorden we couldn’t have done it 20 years ago and expected it to succeed but now the time is right. In Todmorden it had to work and it has been a triumph - within a year, turnover had doubled. In Hebden Bridge we completely overhauled the shop in the spring and sales have increased by 60 per cent,” said Karl.
In the bakery, many things have changed remarkably little, said Karl, with many Saker products produced in the same way. Newer lines are introduced, artisan products made to a high standard, for example savoury pasties made with meat alternatives, but a lot of recipes are those honed in the early days, said Karl.
“With some music and smples to try, we hope you will join us on Saturday, September 27, for the celebrations at both shops,” he said.