Although there are many stereotypes about the British that don’t stand up, there’s one that definitely holds true: we’re suckers for a sausage roll. With that in mind, German bakery brand Bake & Take looks all set to take Britain’s high streets by storm.
Bake & Take’s model originally began life in Germany in 2001 as the brainchild of Dr. Hans Christian Limmer and Dr. Dirk Schneider. “They defined a concept that they believed would be unique in Germany: a fully self-service bakery,” says Robin Page, UK master franchise owner of Bake & Take. Thanks to the capital that they had at their disposal, they were able to buy up a multitude of small independent bakeries across Germany and rebranded them as backWERK – German for baked goods. The two founders quickly settled on franchising as the best model to help them expand, rapidly rolling the brand out across Germany, Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland and Belgium. “There are currently about 360 stores across Europe, with the majority of those being in Germany,” Page says.
When backWERK decided it was time to crack the UK, it needed to find some master franchisees that were up to the job. Fortunately, a contact at the bfa was able to point it in the right direction. “One of their consultants knew my franchise background and asked if I knew anybody that would be interested in taking on the master licence,” says Page. Suffice to say, having spent ten years as franchise director at Cash Generator, the high-street pawn broker, he could see the potential of backWERK’s model. He turned to long-time friend Steve Mahon, who had previously been managing director of bluechip brands like Ebuyer.com, Cash Generator and Wine Cellar, and asked him whether he’d be interested in partnering to bring backWERK to the UK. “After a couple of visits to Germany, we decided that it was something we wanted to look at,” he says.
But whilst both parties agreed that the partnership was a good fit, this didn’t mean there weren’t still creases that needed ironing out. “It took about nine months to agree a deal with Germany because a lot of the parts of the contract they insisted on, we wouldn’t sign,” Page says. “We needed to have total autonomy for the UK.” Whilst elements of the branding and store fit-out have to be kept consistent with the parent brand, Bake & Take has retained a high degree of control over its menu and products. “We stood by our guns and we’ve got a fairly free hand with what we do in the UK,” he says.
Once an agreement was signed, the next stage involved adapting the concept to British shores. “There was a lot of trial and research,” says Page. “Steve and I spent weeks researching all of our competition.” Although the duo have aimed for pricing in the same ballpark as a store like Greggs, Page feels the ambience of their cafes – with softer lighting and free wifi – is more akin to the upper-end high-street eateries. “It’s really upmarket and very much like going into a Pret a Manger or an Eat,” he says.