Crumbs of comfort from bakery amid cost of living crisis

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, a bakery is swallowing as many price increases as possible to avoid passing on hefty rises to its customers.

Fourth-generation family bakers, Stacey’s Bakery, which has two branches in Ilkeston, as well as ones in Heanor and Eastwood, says it has not hiked up its prices as much as the bigger chain brand names.

In input terms, the price of flour has gone up by 30 per cent on this time last year, whipping cream by 50 per cent and premises insurance has risen by 10 per cent, and that’s just focusing on a couple of items.

But in spite of the hike in prices, Stacey’s says it has only added moderate increases to its products, and where possible, has changed suppliers to make sure it can continue to provide the good value it has been known for since the company’s inception over 100 years ago.

But David Stacey, managing director and great-grandson of the business’ founder, Guy Stacey, says bigger names have added more onto prices than their costs have gone up.

He gave an example: “Our sausage rolls are 84p, but they are hand-made and they contain meat from the butcher next door to our bakery. Yet we are 30 percent cheaper than the mass-produced sausage rolls of a well-known brand!

“We can only absorb the price increases so much, but equally, we still want our customers to come back and keep shopping with us and not have to worry about extortionate costs.

“All businesses have to decide how much of their cost price increases they pass onto customers.

“It’s clear that some companies pass all these on, others pass it all on plus some extra besides because they think they can get away with it. We’ve accepted that our profits are going to be lower during this difficult period.”

David added that although everyone was experiencing energy price increases, Stacey’s had been “very fortunate” that an energy broker had enabled the business to find a fixed tariff where its current contract runs until the end of September 2024.

“Don’t get me wrong, prices have gone up significantly compared to what they were before,” said David.

“But we can budget for that, and we know prices are not going to go too silly.

“A couple of months ago we signed a contract which takes us to September 2026.”

But regardless of the current economic climate, Stacey’s, which employs 40 people across its four shops and bakery, has enjoyed a “buoyant” Autumn, even more so than this time last year.

David put the business’ success down to a number of factors.

He said: “Our big thing is working in an efficient way - with a small business we can do that.

“We have a hard-working, dedicated team who put in the hours, alongside myself - that’s probably the key.

“We are also currently in the process of investing in some equipment to make our sausage roll production more speedy.”

He added that the historic company had always remained steady, having ridden out a number of other difficult periods, including the pandemic and previous recessions.

“Because we’re small and my family runs the business, we can make decisions quickly”, said David.

“We haven’t hesitated to change suppliers if it means we are going to get a better price.

“If we get a better price, we don’t have to pass price hikes to our customers.”

January is a notoriously quiet time for spending, following Christmas and with bills coming in, but it is anticipated that this will be felt even more so in 2023.

However, Stacey’s Bakery is already thinking about the New Year, and is devising plans for bringing back special offers and reduced prices to get its customers through winter.

These will be “simple items which will be quick to produce but still tasty”, added David.