Warrens Bakery, the ‘world’s oldest pasty maker’, has opened its inaugural store in London in what is the first step in a strategy to reach 1,000 branches nationwide over the next few years. With the company set to be immersed in dozens of build projects in the months to come, chairman Mark Sullivan outlines what makes the business special.
What does the arrival of Warrens Bakery in London mean for the business?
We are well-known by tourists who visit the West Country, many of whom have asked us to open up near them. Now, with our expansion drive, we are doing just that. London is a very special part of this journey — it’s symbolic. By establishing stores at the heart of the capital, we’re showing that we are serious about taking affordable craft bakery to the nation, from authentic scones and cakes, fresh sandwiches made with West Country breads and hand-crimped pasties to gourmet sausage rolls and so much more.
What do you feel Warrens Bakery will bring to the capital that will set it apart from other bakeries?
Tradition and authenticity. As the original Cornish bakery, our award-winning British products are made daily by a team of master bakers, many of whom have been with us their whole careers. Eight have 240 years’ service between them.
The company was recently recognised as one of the UK’s top three British craft bakeries. How significant was that achievement?
It’s a massive endorsement. We employ over 600 people and take our products out to numerous counties, day-in day-out. This requires consistency and reliability, qualities that have served us well for over 150 years. As a full-spectrum bakery, we produce everything from craft breads (and fresh sandwiches based on them), indulgent scones and treats, hot savouries and pasties. There are some lovely boutique bakeries that operate from one or two stores with a limited product range, while we want to be embracing and take craft bakery out to the community at large.
You’ve partnered with Martha Collison, the youngest ever contestant on the Great British Bake Off. Why was she the obvious choice as an ambassador for the company?
Martha is passionate about baking and taking it out to the nation. She’s warm, friendly and authentic. Martha is also a hugely dedicated practitioner, who has fine-tuned her skills and is now in full flow, demonstrating creativity and innovation at every turn. Our values are totally aligned and we are proud to have her as our partner.
Where would you like to see Warrens Bakery in five years’ time?
Established as the nation’s craft bakery of choice. In every city and town, we aim to be the automatic port of call for authentic bakery, whatever the place, whatever the need. We want all our customers across the UK to be immersed in our traditions, to understand that what they’ve enjoyed was handmade by someone who took pride in it. You will see real variations in our products because they’re truly artisan and lovingly handcrafted, not mechanically-produced widgets from fast-moving conveyor belts.
50 stores across the UK
Warrens Bakery is a traditional bakery, with three production sites and more than 50 stores throughout Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Manchester, Birmingham, Hampshire, Essex and now, for the first time in its 150-year-old history, London. The story of Warrens Bakery began back in 1860 when the original shop was opened. It now regards itself as the oldest Cornish pasty maker in the world.