Bakery Retailer of the Year Award (managed store) – supported by Warburtons
Interview with store manager Craig McAulay.
WALK through the front door of Scotmid Stockbridge in Edinburgh and the first thing most customers notice is the prominent display of fresh, artisan loaves from The Breadwinner Bakery.
The family bakery, still run by Sean and Lesley McVey, who founded it in 1973, has been in partnership with Scotmid since 2014, supplying 37 of its stores.
Priding itself on using traditional craft baking methods, making all products by hand, the company makes a point of not using any additives or chemicals, and store manager Craig McAulay is in no doubt that it is a big draw for customers.
“We get fresh supplies in each day. We started with a core range that expanded and expanded. They’ll trial things as well. We’ll introduce different things around seasonal occasions and if they work, we’ll keep them on,” he said.
One of the bakery’s best sellers is its sourdough loaf, but there are a myriad to choose from, including french sticks, pretzels, sweet pepper flatbread and Jewish challah loaves on a Friday.
“The range is different in each store,” said Craig. “If you go to Marchmont they’ll do something slightly different. It’s a partnership that’s working. We speak to them each day, keeping communication going, making sure if anything’s wrong we can get it sorted. There’s quite a close connection between the two.”
It’s sale or return as well, so anything that doesn’t sell gets sent back each night, to be sold on for animal feed, ensuring nothing is wasted.
But crucially, for the winner of Scottish Grocer’s Bakery Retailer of the Year Award (managed), how has the introduction of Breadwinner affected sales of other bread?
“To be honest, it hasn’t affected wrapped bread directly,” said Craig.
“We’ve got our core range and that’s stayed the same. We used to have an in-store bakery using products that came in frozen. By swapping that out for Breadwinner we’ve doubled sales on fresh bread.
“The actual core range, though, has remained the same. In fact, it’s been slightly up recently. It’s mainly comprised of Warburtons and Allied Bakeries – about a 50/50 split. We recently introduced a 79p loaf as a cheaper range, which has helped sales. They go very, very fast. We also have a lot of elderly customers and young professionals living alone, and both tend to go for the smaller loaves. If they were to get a full loaf, half would just go to waste.
“We get most of our sales from 5pm onwards every evening, so it remains fairly well stocked throughout the day and we order in extra for the weekend, when it’s at it’s busiest.”
Sales of gluten-free bread have also been doing well, since Craig introduced a separate bay near the front of the store.
“There was something else in that section that wasn’t working so I wanted to take it out and put free from in, to give it a bit of a push,” he said.
“People had been coming in and asking where our free from was. There was a free-from bay further up the store, with a bit of everything, but I wanted to push the bread. There are so many people looking to try it now. It makes sense to bring it closer to the front of the store.”
When he decided a full bay was too much to stock with only free-from bread, he supplemented it with promoted items from the core range.
“What we find is a lot of people walk in to get their papers and, seeing this in the first aisle, start thinking about picking up a loaf. It’s another way to dual merchandise bread so we can get more sales.”
As if all that wasn’t enough, there’s also a second local supplier in the form of Stuart’s Bakers, which provides a wide range of fresh Scottish rolls every day, as well as pastries, pies and cakes for the food-to-go counter, which is set to undergo a mini-refit so the store can soon offer filled fresh baguettes.
“The greatest thing about having these suppliers is that you can phone them up to talk about issues or ideas and get it sorted really quickly,” said Craig.
“And we get to trial so much. When new things come out, I say bring it on. We want it in the store, to attract more customers.”