2017 IS NEARLY ALL WRAPPED UP. WHAT A YEAR!
Ever since I started Paul Rhodes Bakery in 2003 I’ve loved getting up and coming to work. I never get tired of making bread, with all its sights, sounds and smells and I am eternally thankful for my brilliant team at the bakery and our wonderful customers who have ordered our products every day over the years. But 2017 was, without a doubt, a very special year for the business and our most exciting to date.
Back in 2016 we decided our brand needed a bit of a refresh and while our new logo and some materials went live later the same year, it was only in 2017 that we were able to fully deliver the new Paul Rhodes Bakery experience, complete with a new website, including online ordering, and our fleet of stunning new delivery vans. As I’ve been out and about over the months, meeting the chefs we supply, I have been so pleased to hear their positive comments about our new look and approach. It was a massive decision to make such an investment in the business and I am delighted that it has been so well received.
We’ve also been to a number of trade shows this year with our new stand – including Caffe Culture and The Restaurant Show – and this has been a great way to see what is happening in the market and to meet potential customers. We’ve undertaken numerous ‘pop-ups’ at customer offices or events and we’ve welcomed a number of customer teams down to Greenwich so they can tour the bakery, see how we work and sample our latest products. I’ve also struck up a relationship with Le Cordon Bleu London this year and have found meeting young chefs and giving them advice about making bread so rewarding. When I was a young chef I learnt all about bread from the incredible Pierre Koffmann and I am delighted to say that came along to the bakery a few weeks ago to see how things were changing. He’s always been my mentor and his opinion is as important to me today as it was years ago. I think he was impressed!
We are now heads down and hands on to deliver our biggest ever month to finish 2017 and expect to create more than 100,000 mince pies and more than 30,000 gingerbread men/stars/trees alone in December, on top of our day-to-day bread and pastry orders. The icing on the cake this year – so to speak – was winning the 2017 British Baker Christmas Star award for our traditional festive Stollen. The award is all about taste so that means the world to us – and Maik, our German head baker, who uses his grandfather’s recipe!
The start of 2018 is only a few weeks away now and we are already well underway to make next year even better than this – hopefully! Early in 2018 we will be implementing a new system for the business and while this won’t be visible to our customers it will hopefully benefit them by making everything we do, from processing orders to issuing invoices, even more efficient. Next year is also our 15th birthday and over the months we will be reflecting on where we have come from and pursuing a more back-to-basics approach within the business – more of that later. We are also in the middle of an NPD drive and aim to deliver a number of brilliant new products throughout next year. We are very excited about our plans for 2018 and look forward to sharing them with our customers as we move through our 15th anniversary year.
Finally, in our world and those of our customers we are surrounded by huge amounts of food on a daily basis and especially this time of year we can all take it for granted that we – and everyone we know – will have plenty to eat and drink. That’s not the case for everyone and I am proud to say that, in addition to our regular charitable giving, Crisis at Christmas will again be the recipient of Paul Rhodes products. Visitors to the charity’s carol service should get to sample one of our delicious mince pies but the bulk of our donation goes to the shelters that provide a temporary home – complete with food, drink and company – for the thousands of homeless people who get a much needed break from London’s streets at this time of year. Crisis is an amazing charity and it does such vital work all year round. For more information, or if you can help, visit crisis.org.uk
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers and blog readers a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year and to thank you all for your continued custom and support.