Yorkshire bakery on the rise post Covid

Kate Williams

Shipley bakery Just Desserts has bounced back better than its best year pre pandemic, trading ten per cent ahead of like for like sales in 2019 when it also saw a 33 per cent uplift.

This rise comes despite challenges faced due to Covid which decimated the foodservice and hospitality markets.

The bakery, founded and run by husband and wife team James and Carol O’Dwyer, completed a £160,000 expansion project into Unit 4 on Station Road, Shipley to future proof the site just as the country was locked down in March 2020.

The investment spanned building works to extend the bakery footprint by more than 60 per cent, new equipment, a larger freezer and increased storage capacity, as well as an NPD area, improved staffroom and facilities and a meeting/board room on a new mezzanine floor.

Following its most challenging year of trading during the height of the pandemic in 2020, the bakery is now on the rise again with a stronger team, new products, new equipment, including a new cheesecake crumb press worth £12K to improve productivity and plans for further growth.

Capitalising on the burgeoning Vegan bakes market and its successful Vegan product range which includes cakes, brownies and oatie crumbles, Just Desserts is set to launch its latest Vegan addition – a Spicy Ginger Tray Bake Cake which has already picked up a prestigious 2 star award in this year’s Great Taste Awards, run by the Guild of Fine Foods.

The Spicy Ginger Tray Bake is aimed at the farm shop, café and restaurant markets and it was heaped with praise from the Great Taste judges from “a wonderful tasting experience leaving a long ginger warmth” to “this is a cake that takes you on a journey … just when you think you’ve tasted it all, you unearth a bit more treacle or a pocket of ginger. Stunning!”

Just Desserts has also appointed its first General Manager, welcoming back Kate Williams, who was the business development manager for the company from 2010-2012.

Kate joins from AJ Pies & Pasties of Huddersfield, where she was business development manager and prior to that Kate was regional sales manager for Pelican Rouge Coffee Solutions. Kate will oversee the daily business operations, develop growth strategies and manage staff, supporting MD James O’Dwyer and the senior management team.

The production team has also grown to 20-strong with the appointment of four new bakers.   Just Desserts operates its own fleet of vans and distributes across Yorkshire, Lancashire, Middlesbrough and the Midlands and has also hired a new driver to help service a growing national customer base.

James O’Dwyer, MD, Just Desserts said: “As with so many businesses, the pandemic created some extraordinary difficulties and challenges for us and we are delighted to have been able to cope with them and in fact bounce back better than ever.

“Our new look bakery is more streamlined, allowing improved productivity and we have a very strong bakery team in place to help meet the increasing demand for our products.

“We are also delighted to welcome Kate back into the fold.  Kate’s appointment is integral in supporting me and the team with the general management of the bakery moving forwards.

“Our latest product launch complements our Vegan product offer, which is seeing strong demand from customers who are looking to serve a wider Vegan product range in their cafes, farm shops and restaurants.  We are confident this will be another fantastic addition to this growing market.”

Just Desserts was founded on a £40-a-week enterprise allowance more than 36 years ago by James and Carol O’Dwyer. The business has evolved from James baking cakes in a unit in Salt’s Mill to producing a handcrafted product range of 130 different lines.

The award winning bakery supplies direct to the foodservice industry with a customer base spanning cafes, garden centres, farm shops, visitor attractions, restaurants, desserts bars, pubs hotels and wholesalers across the North of England and the Midlands.

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