Quality ingredients are the key to success say the owners of a Warsop bakery which is celebrating 30 years in business.
Colin and Sandy Campbell set up Campbell’s Bakery, traditional craft bakers, three decades ago – and are still going strong.
The couple decided to go for self-employment after trained chef Colin had been working for Tesco as a bakery manager – in the expectation that running their own bakery would fit in better with their family life.
And for the cake-lovers baking is not just a job but their life’s vocation – they even confess to reading recipes books in bed at night.
A rural development grant from Mansfield District Council helped set them on their way.
“We started with not much at all really,” said Colin. “We just had enough money to buy a bread mixer.”
These days they own their premises on Warsop’s High Street and employ 10 people, including their three daughters, Jessica, Gemma and Nicola.
While many craft bakers have crumbled against the big supermarkets, Campbell’s has gone from strength to strength – and without a website or Facebook page, but simply through word of mouth.
The couple put their success down to not cutting corners on the quality of their ingredients: the cornflake tarts use Kellogg’s cornflakes, the lemon meringue pies are flavoured with real lemons.
Sandra says: “We do like eating bread and cakes so we only make what we like and we try to keep our prices reasonable, bearing in mind the higher cost of our ingredients.”
Colin says: “We enjoy what we do and wouldn’t want to do anything else and I think it shows – and the people of Warsop are lovely.”
“We have regular customers who come and tell us how nice the products are,” adds Sandra. “It just spurs you on.”
For Colin, it can mean 4am starts some days to bake the bread which is made daily. Sandra comes in a bit later to make an ever-changing variety of cakes and novelty biscuits.
Colin says: “There is so much variety, there are things I haven’t made for six or nine months. I don’t have a plan. I just make what I feel like making when I come in. The customers never know what they are going to get.”
Sandra adds: “I am a bit more organised. I like to have a plan. Sometimes we will get someone come in and say ‘any chance of some flapjack tomorrow’ or Meden School will ring and says ‘do you think you could do us 40 cakes’.
“But we keep changing things so this week I have been making a banana and walnut cake which I have never made before. We just keep evolving and coming up with new ideas. While other people are lying in bed, reading novels, we are looking at cook books and recipes.”
In all the years the bakery has traded, the only time the shop has been shut was for a week in 2011 when Colin had to be admitted to hospital for a serious heart condition. There have been several other admissions since.
“I have been shocked 11 times so far,” says Colin, who still managed to conduct business from his hospital bed, giving the weights and measures from recipes known by heart, over the phone.
Although the couple are heading toward retirement age, they love their jobs so much they admit it may be some time before they hand over the reins to their children.
Colin says: “I think we will still be here after we retire – I’d get bored if I wasn’t baking.”
The shop front of Campbell’s Bakery, High Street, Warsop, has just had a facelift thanks to a Mansfield District Council grant.
Sandra Campbell says: “The old one was dropping to bits and we wanted to ensure we got something longlasting. so we used a new particular kind of wood recommended to us from Ireland, which does not let in any water.
“The new sign cost nearly £2,500 and we got 50 per cent toward that from the council – we wouldn’t have been able to do that if we had not got help from the council. We have been here 30 years and it is time to upgrade the machines and the ovens, so this was an extra expense.
Colin says: “We decided to approach the council for help, because we have done it once before, when we got a grant that helped towards us buying one of our first machines.
“The council brought in some leaflets saying there was a grant available, so I phoned up, got all the information and went from there.”