The History of Clarks’ Bakery Ltd.
The bakery was created in 1950 in a small corner shop at 92 Annfield Road by my father who supplied the local population with fresh bakery goods produced in the back shop. The first time I saw ‘fast food” was in the fifties when the mill workers came and purchased fried egg filled rolls.
I was around10 years old when I started to help my father in the back shop or by serving customers in the front shop. I did this after school and also on a Sunday before and after going to Martyrs Church just down the road from the bakery.
On 3rd December 1961 on my 15th birthday I left Logie School with no qualifications and then started a 5year apprentiship at Clarks Home Bakery (the original name). My father taught me all there is to know about business and bakery and after 5years at day-release at the Kingsway Tech I was ready to spread my wings. Over the next 5years I travelled throughout Europe and New Zealand where I worked as a baker with in a small Dutch bakery in Auckland. In 1971 I returned to my hometown and was ready to start my own business.
In December 1971, 10years after I started my training I started my own business at 92 Annfield Row as my father was retired and the baker who took it over found it to be too much for him.
During the seventies I moved the bakery to Charleston then to Miln Street and then to South Road.
During this time I had a stall in Lorne Street Market then progressed to a small retail shop in Lochee and onto a shop in the new Lochee High Street Shopping precinct.
During this time I only did retail and in late seventies and early eighties I started supplying wholesale bakery goods throughout Dundee. This led the business going into voluntary liquidation caused by the recession at that time and being naive about the problems of supplying wholesale.
I then started to bake in the back shop in the Charleston shop and from there I supplied my Lochee Shop along with a new retail shop in Albert Street. In the late eighties I moved the bakery to a unit in Peddie Street and then into the final premises at unit 3 Annfield Row. The nineties brought expansion with taking on units 4, 5 and 6. Around this time I had 30 staff supplying our shops and moving into supplying supermarkets. This was a mistake because I found out the only thing that they want is cheap bakery goods with quality being secondary to there demands, also with late payments and putting all sorts of conditions to remain a supplier I decided to stop all business with them, at that time we supplied around 50% of our business with them.
I paid off 10 staff and decided to concentrate on our retail business which was sadly in decline because of changing habits of the public.
We had started going into fast food in a small way, remembering how my father used to do hot filled rolls and so the journey began to create a fast food business that is talked about on the media, national radio and national newspapers.
During this time Jonathon came into the business and successfully created our sandwich production supplying Dundee, Abertay and St Andrews University with all their filled sandwiches and bakery goods.
To secure the company we bought 11 of the 12 units in the estate, since then we have successfully promoted the area as the place to do business
Over the next 15years we had around 40 staff and in past 2 years we have employed an extra 30 staff with more in the pipeline if we are allowed to go forward with our ambitious plans for the future.
Lately we have successfully opened 3 new shops in Dundee which brings me to state what is happening in the retail bakery trade. 50years ago 100% of what I produced was fresh bakery goods made and sold every day 7days a week (I have always worked 7days a week), now the percentage is very different, 20% fresh baked goods, 25% filled sandwiches for the universities and 55% hot fast food. You don’t have to be a business expert to understand that times are changing and so must anybody that wants to carry on their business successfully if only for the benefit of your family and also just as important your employees.
Our future success will depend on sound financial decisions, which brings me to why we are opening our own butchery department. Firstly and the most important reason is that we want to control the high quality of butchery products that we require in the bakery. Secondly we want control of the costs (30% of our material costs are meat products). Thirdly we want our customers to know that only the best is used and that they can see and buy the products we use.
We have proved that we are a successful company, who puts our employees and customers first.
With good management the future is positive in the creation of a company that is ahead of its time. The thought of having a farm shop in the city is a first for Scotland if not Great Britain is very exciting.
All this has all been done with no help, financial or advice from government or Dundee council in any way.
As a finishing note with my vast experience in the retail trade I believe that the High Street trading will be dead in next 20years due to the internet and little or no parking available near shops for a quick shop, visit any small town and all you see is shops to let, Crieff is a prime example. With most people having there own transport all they look for is free parking near the shop they want to visit. For example if I want to buy a book in Watersons I will have to add the price of a parking ticket to the cost.