Baked in brilliance
To ensure that it remains the best bakery brand around, Wenzel’s The Bakers invests a great deal of time, capital and resources into its products, its people and in future design
Founded in 1975 as a single site, family run enterprise, Wenzel’s The Bakers (Wenzel’s) has since become a favorite brand of its clientele in the Northwest London area. Mixing traditional elements with up-to-date modern bakery methods, Wenzel’s believes in delivering quality products at affordable prices, and doing so via outstanding customer service.
“With our founder and CEO Peter Wenzel at the helm leading the company, we have experienced particularly rapid growth in the last several years,” states Wenzel’s Director and Assistant General Manager, Karl Spinks. “Today, we operate from 70 stores, in each of which we provide fresh bread, cakes, sandwiches and hot savories to our loyal customer base, as well as produce party platters and celebration cakes for all occasions.”
While Northwest London remains the company’s heartland, and is still at the core of its business activities, expansion into other territories has resulted in recent store openings in Essex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. “We cater for a broad range of demographics, which has aided our expansion efforts,” Karl adds. “This is also reflected in our product range. We take careful consideration of this when it comes to new product developments, with lines created to meet what we feel are the desired needs of our customers.
“The Wenzel’s brand has been built on providing consistently quality products at an affordable price. All of our products are produced with an unrivalled degree of care, passion and attention to detail, including hand finishing and moulding of all of our bread and cake goods. Every single product undergoes strict quality checks throughout the production process, and due to the amount of hand work required, all of our employees are trained to the highest of industry standards. Furthermore, all of the ingredients that go into our goods are selected by our experienced production team to reflect the quality that we – and our customers – expect from Wenzel’s!”
Site openings planned
When asked to elaborate on what other factors or qualities have played their part in Wenzel’s continued success, the first word that springs to Karl’s mind is passion. “This is one of a number of important characteristics that run through the whole of the business, from our management team to all of our team members who operate as one big Wenzel’s family,” he enthuses. “As any sensible business would, we are always looking to our competitors to see how they are performing, however it is our desire to always stay several steps ahead of the field, both in terms of what we sell and our image.”
In the case of the latter, the company has recently rebranded to include a more colorful aspect to its instore POS and packaging. Its new slogan, ‘Everyone Loves a Wenzel’s’, has been incorporated into this rebrand process, and helps to reflect the views expressed in the feedback the company regularly receives from the communities it operates within.
“We take great pride in our customer service – which is another trait that we believe has been vital to our success – and we make a concerted effort to not pitch ourselves at high price points,” Karl continues. “We consider our prices to be very reasonable for what we sell, and we are proud of that fact. At the end of the day, the demand is definitely out there for our product. Our extremely strong sales are proof of this, and this is allowing Wenzel’s to target the opening of another 20 sites in the next 12 months.”
Wenzel’s has also shown itself to be a business that is not afraid to embrace change and new technology. It is this openness that has seen it forge relationships in recent times with various online delivery platforms, one of which being the corporate office catering and food delivery service, City Pantry. “Traditionally, we have focused on retail aspects with very little wholesale or business-to-business activity, but in partnering with Uber, Deliveroo and Just Eat in various stores, we have seen the growth potential of the delivery market first hand,” Karl says. “City Pantry, being more focused on business-to-business services, is another avenue that we are trialing in our more central London-based stores without detracting from our core strength and concentrating on what we do best, and that’s being a very good retailer.”
As previously mentioned, Wenzel’s continues to be overseen by its founder Peter Wenzel and remains a family run business even after 45 successful years. “Wenzel’s provides a family environment for all of our team members,” Karl declares. “Particular attention is given to providing our people with flexible working patterns and shifts that suit everyone from students to parents and carers from all walks of life. Meanwhile, regular incentives, rewards and an emphasis on promoting a healthy working atmosphere all work towards having a highly-motivated workforce.”
The togetherness and determination of the team also proved invaluable in rising to the challenges presented this year by Covid-19. “Staying ahead of the curve means a lot to us, and this mentality extends to keeping our customers and employees safe,” Karl declares. “As such, we were installing Perspex safety screens, providing masks to our teams, and installing hygiene systems prior to all of these things becoming mandatory during the pandemic.”
Despite the considerable disruption caused across the UK – and indeed the world – by the pandemic, Wenzel’s has successfully adapted its operations and thus remain open. “From the outset, we saw that there would be high demand for essential items like bread, and after calls from customers asking us for items such as milk and flour, we introduced these into our stores as well. These were products that we did not sell before, and we have had great continued demand ever since lockdown,” Karl explains. “We have also seen slight changes in other sales areas. While bread sales have remained incredibly strong, with fewer people out working, the need for sandwiches and lunches fell slightly. However, the fact that there were no coffee shops open in our locations meant a tripling in our own coffee sales.”
Going forward into 2021 and beyond, Wenzel’s has strong foundations in place for it to enjoy continued expansion. At the same time, it also has designs to go on innovating in terms of its shop design, while putting greater emphasis on not only service itself, but also on point of service and great displays.
By way of a parting comment, Karl is also keen to highlight one final point. “With each passing day, Wenzel’s becomes more and more aware of the social responsibility of growing businesses and how they can provide opportunities and support to local communities. We are proud to support many local sports teams, food banks, charities, schools and businesses. We also are looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint including working with partners like ‘too good to go’, which works to avoid food waste from going to landfill,” he concludes.