The firm is supplying hundreds of pubs across the UK with cakes, Parry Hughes-Morgan told British Baker, and is in talks with several other pub companies who are keen to tap into the growing coffee and cake market.
One such company it supplies is St Austell Brewery, which has launched a range of bakery products across its managed pubs as it expands its Brewer & Bean brand to include stand-alone coffee shops.
“Why shouldn’t pubs be more like coffee shops?” said Hughes-Morgan. “Some chains like Wetherspoons are very competent at using every hour of the day to make the most of their space. Pubs are hospitality venues just like coffee shops, and often pubs are in lovely buildings. We built on that notion by saying to a number of pub chains, ‘why don’t you take coffee and cake seriously?’ Get your wifi working and, as long as you’re not too dark and dingy and you display your cakes properly, you might have a place people would love to pop into at 3pm in the afternoon.”
The Handmade Cake Company approached its first pub chain two years ago, and now supplies “hundreds” of pubs in the south west and the east of England, as well as Scotland and Wales. “I think pubs turning into coffee shops is growing very fast,” said Hughes-Morgan. “The overall branded coffee market is growing around 10% a year. I would guess the amount of good coffee and cake being sold in pubs is growing at 30% plus.”
Pubs prefer more traditional products to other customers, said Hughes-Morgan, opting for brownies, flapjacks, carrot cake and Victoria sponge, over more exotic recipes such as zucchini and lime cake and salted caramel traybake.
The pub trade still accounts for less than 5% of The Handmade Cake Company’s business, but Hughes-Morgan said it was growing fast. “There is a lot of potential. In five years the distinction will have blurred and the notion of going to Costa for coffee and a pub for a pint will have broken down and we won’t think of them in the same way.”
Hughes-Morgan said he was currently in discussion with several other pub chains and he predicted pubs would account for 15% of the business’ turnover in the next decade.