Just eight years after joining the ranks of the self-employed by converting his double-garage into a bakery, Alan Davis today heads an organic bakery in the Forest of Dean that has hit on the recipe for nationwide success.
From garage to factory
His business, The Authentic Bread Company, has moved on from the early years in his converted garage and now occupies a modern 4,500 sq ft unit on the Strawberry Hill Business Park, Newent, Gloucestershire, from where he supplies between 80 and 100 daily customers throughout the UK.
Davis is full of praise for the support given to his business by Forest of Dean District Council in the early days of the enterprise. “We knew we had a great product and we were delighted when the local authority shared in our vision. Creating a new business takes a lot more than just a good idea and our local council provided the boost we needed at the right time.”
A former BT engineer, he gave up full-time employment and turned his hobby of bread making into a business. “On day one we had no customers and my wife Jane went out in the locality cold-calling. Since then we have enjoyed excellent growth, ranging from 30 per cent to 75 per cent a year, and we supply next-day organic bread products to all corners of the British Isles.”
The Authentic Bread Company had its first big break when, in just its first year of business, it won the Best Bread award in the Soil Association’s Good Food awards. “It was a great start for us and gave us an instant profile in the industry. We then grew from serving local customers and delicatessens to developing an ever-expanding customer base,” adds Alan.
He admits that self-employment has been tough but remains committed to his goal of making bread healthier and tastier. “Last Christmas I worked two 18 hour days followed by a 24 hour day, but when you’ve got 11,000 mince pies to get out there’s not much choice!” adds Alan, who now employs a workforce of 10.
The organic product
The Authentic Bread Company is passionately committed to providing the taste and texture that customers seek when they buy 100% organic products. As a craft bakery, it ferments all its dough and steadfastly refuses to use any additives in its products.
None of its bread products contain improvers or additives, and every item is hand baked. With the exception of its Calzone, Country Pasty and the Walnut and Cheese bread, all products are suitable for vegans. From basic white loafs and cobs to ciabatta olive bread and flapjacks, The Authentic Bread Company is winning new fans every day. “We’re getting two new customers a week, which just shows that there’s still a great appetite for our products,” adds Alan.