Dec 28 2012
Sarah Wenzel at Wenzel's The Baker, company head office, Bridge Street, Pinner.
A much-loved local bakery business wants to earn its crust in more and more locations, its boss tells chief reporter IAN PROCTOR.
A POPULAR chain of sandwich shops wants to take a bigger bite out of the marketplace with its expansion plans.
Wenzel's The Bakers, with its orange, cream and brown livery and cartoony character logo of an apron and chef hat-wearing cheery boulanger, is a familiar sight across north-west London, operating 24 branches from Baker Street in the east to Uxbridge in the west.
The family firm employs 250 baking, shop, delivery and administration staff with its head office and bakery behind its Pinner store.
Sarah Wenzel, general manager, said: "In the last half a year we completely rebranded the shops, investing an awful lot of money, and we've started to open our shops on a Sunday, which is good for our customers because they can get fresh bread every day.
"We've started an expansion programme: we're outgrowing our existing factory and to enable us to expand effectively, we are moving factories in the New Year but retaining our shop within Pinner.
"We'd be able to produce goods for 100 shops in a new factory. And we're looking to possibly go into Hayes and Hillingdon. The shop we opened recently in Ickenham is such a busy shop. It exceeded our expectations.
"It's clear a local bakery shop enhances the local community and people go specifically to meet their friends."
Sarah wasn't even born when in 1975 father Peter, now chief executive, left his job as a bakery manager at Allied Bakeries to take over the running of a bakery in Sudbury Hill, renaming the new business after himself - the unusual surname coming across from Germany with Peter's grandfather.
"He decided he wanted to go out on his own. He borrowed £5,000 from the bank, and the rest in history," said Sarah. It was actually called Wenzel's Hot Bread Shops because we used to have an oven in each shop, although not now.
"We still bake fresh and we send out two deliveries a day to every store, and our Baker Street station and Harrow-on-the-Hill station shops open at 6am to cater for the commuter crowd, and the rest at 7am."
Schoolchildren call by first thing to grab their breakfast while workers nip in for a sandwich at lunch and people drop by to grab a cake on the way home.
Sarah said: "We're selling quality produce but they're priced really competitively. Sausage rolls, which are massively popular, and our bloomer bread are our signatures.
"Jamaican patties are one of our biggest sellers, even outselling the traditional steak slice, actually. We introduced it about two or three years ago. We looked at our competitors and saw what they were doing and we tried it and recognised how tasty they were and it's taken off since then.
"However, we've always had a really good bread trade and there was a time when people went to the supermarket to get their loaf but they're gradually coming back to bakeries, thanks to things like the TV show 'The Great British Bake Off'.
"A nice, freshly-baked loaf is like giving yourself a treat, but an affordable one."