The social enterprise business is now based in a larger premises on Pershore Road in Stirchley, which includes a new community bakery running five days a week and employing three members of staff, who help to make and sell breads such as sourdoughs, focaccias and ciabattas.
Loaf Cookery School’s new premises have been financed by Everards, the business’ landlord and a family brewery based in Leicester, which has invested £300,000 into purchasing the site and its refurbishment.
To fund the equipment, Loaf Cookery School said it arranged a ‘bread bonds’ deal, whereby the business asked 25 people to invest £1,000, which they get back after three years, along with a 6% interest rate paid in bread loaves rather than cash.
Tom Baker, founder of the Loaf Cookery School, told British Baker: “I started the cookery school back in November 2009 from my home, but I always wanted to have somewhere purpose-built to run the courses. It seemed ideal doing this as we have been really successful over the past three years and have sold out of our courses for two years solid.
“I used to bake one day a week at home, but we now run the new bakery five days a week on the local high street. The bakery was a really small part of what I was doing before, especially in terms of income, because when you’re baking at home in a domestic oven, the scale is so tiny and I was only producing 50 loaves a week. So you don’t really make any money at that point.”
He added that the bakery is now starting to equal the cookery school in terms of turnover, making up to 800 loaves a week.
As a result of the move, Loaf Cookery School has managed to double its capacity in terms of the number of courses it offers and how many people it can take on. This includes its bakery training, mainly targeted at amateur bakers wanting to make bread at home or setting up microbakeries, including an introductory bread-making course and a dedicated sourdough course.
The business also offers additional cookery-focused training, such as butchery, fishmongery, wild food foraging and preserving.
“Being a social enterprise and being in Stirchley, we see that as being a big part of our social purpose because it’s a bit of a dead high street and it’s desperate for a bit of rejuvination,” said Baker. “We see ourselves being part of the regeneration of the area by getting people down to buy our bread and creating a bit of footfall.”