We are facing unprecedented times.
Horrendous death toll predicted, NHS overwhelmed, threat of lock down, new terms “social distancing” and “self isolation”, school closure & exam cancellation, international travel over, stocks & shares collapsed and businesses closing everywhere.
Rex Artisan Bakery opened in Little Chalfont March 26th, 2014. We have survived & thrived through many challenges since then and yet 1 week short of 6 years later – we find ourselves fighting for survival.
As business owners we have been cautious & careful at every step. We are in no debt, we are our own landlords, we have taken prudent steps to growth, we diversified across retail and wholesale, across breads/ pastries/ sandwiches/ coffees. As a consequence we have been able to weather the storms across the portfolio – including but not restricted to new competitors, staff that let us down, failing customers that never paid, fraud, petty rules & regulations, seasonal variations and more.
We grew to 50% retail through our community shop and 50% wholesale, supplying discerning food outlets across the Chilterns. We are Sourdough specialists aiming for nothing less than Excellence in #RealBread and we have been judged & awarded amongst the very best in Britain. We do like to think we got a few things right along the way 🙂
Nothing has come close to the effect on Rex that losing so much of your wholesale custom has had in just a couple of days. We feel so sorry for the many wonderful discerning cafes, pubs, restaurants that we have loved supplying, who have been forced to close their doors to the public already since the announcement of the latest government interventions. Gilbey’s in Old Amersham, Breadhouse in Chalfont St Peter to share a couple. There were more about to open with us who have had to abandon their plans – with sky high fixed costs it’s a tall order to survive in Hospitality if the public is asked to stay away from your sites. We are concerned for the owners & their staff, for whom the budgetary measures mentioned do not come close to protecting their financial wellbeing at this time. We are concerned for the disappointed customers and of course for our own livelihood too.
Thankfully we have seen a big increase in Shop sales in the past week, with Sourdough selling out in the 1st 45 minutes after we open at 7am and all bread loaves sold by 11am yesterday. We have been increasing production and supply for the shop to meet this new early morning demand so please do continue to come and support us! We think that our lovely friends of Rex are staying local, choosing the highest quality food for a healthy diet in these worrying times and making sure they have stocks of their staple daily bread. Thank you, we NEED YOU in order that we can keep going.
In Phase 1 – we moved to cashless, implemented a 1 metre distance between all people in the shop, stopped any handling of the product by anybody except gloved/ tonged staff, started to shut early for extra clean-down and segregation of staff groups. In Phase 2 earlier this week we removed table seating for eat-in and will provide tape on the floor for reinforcing the 1 metre rule. We have plans for Phase 3 should Little Chalfont go into Lockdown and become like Italy and other countries, where only food shops & pharmacies are permitted to be infrequently visited. Rest assured, people are still buying a coffee during these local grocery shopping trips, but by law they must keep their distance and can’t sit in to drink it.
All is not lost! We are thrilled that our fabulous grocery wholesale customers like Budgens & Organic Bread Shop are also seeing strong sales, with their shoppers also staying local & ensuring they have sufficient stocks of daily staples like Bread. And we are seeing tremendous creativity and commitment to remain open by customers like the brilliant Huddle in Gerrards Cross, Coopers in Marlow and No 2 Pound Street in Wendover. We encourage all to try their generous delivery services!
But let us not underestimate how challenging the coming weeks & months will be for all of us, how stretched our scarce resources will be. We hear & read “support your community” pleas and it goes both ways. We have reached out to the Church, Community Association and Little Chalfont CoronaVirus Help group with ideas on our part, and look forward to any other ideas that anybody in our community has!
Look forward to seeing you in Rex for all that extra-made #RealBread!