Bradfords Bakers was founded by Hugh Bradford and his sons in 1924. The family, for a few decades, operated within one property (though it moved around to different areas in Glasgow) with a small staff. The family sought expansion in the latter half of the twentieth century when multiple stores were opened – the flagship location for Bradfords Bakers became their Sauchiehall Street property which, for a time, was the largest artisan bakers shop in the UK.
Due to 2008’s recession, the Bradford family had to begin the difficult process of closing its stores. As the family had operated from several shops that customers could simply walk into whenever they wanted for years, they sensed a great amount of change to come.
Fourth generation Bradford Claire and her husband James uprooted the business completely and moved it online. A branch of the family business had been selling their goods online since 2006, but changed circumstances led to the company moving to e-commerce completely in 2013.
Closing their last store on a Friday and reopening their services afresh the following Tuesday, the family showed a great amount of determination and preparedness in becoming an e-commerce company. They were once only able to provide goods and gifts for Glasgow’s locale, but their move online meant they could set their eyes on further expanding their customer base.
Bradfords Bakers delivers not only UK wide, but also to the USA and China. As Brexit’s impact on delivering food gifts to the EU continues to unfold, Bradfords Bakers has currently suspended their delivery services to Europe but look forward to delivering gifts there once again as soon as possible.
The way Bradfords Bakers trades has flipped completely from its beginnings, but Claire and James still hold onto the ethos that has always been instilled within the family business. Bradfords Bakers has historically and largely operated with a small staff. Today, the bakery employs just ten staff members.
This is double the amount of staff the company kept last year – as the pandemic unfolded and lockdowns rolled across the nation, the need for gifts that can be delivered directly to its recipient skyrocketed. The five bakery staff were inundated with orders, so new employees were brought in.
The Bradford family have also always been careful to personally ensure high levels of quality into each gift provided by them. While grappling with the pandemic, Claire takes extra steps to ensure good hygiene and cleanliness levels in her bakery so she can continue hand decorating every cupcake that leaves the premises – this instils each one with a unique look, as Claire is adamant that her cupcakes should not look as though they’ve come off a production line.
Now other bakeries are also making the move to online trading to adapt to current circumstances, and Bradfords Bakers feel lucky to have been already in the space to service their customers remotely.
While many small businesses have had to furlough staff or let them go, Bradfords Bakers has thrived in the past year, despite lockdowns and travel restrictions. When pushed down, the Bradford family will bounce back up, ready to meet any challenge.
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