Magazine article Marketing

Brand Builders: The Bread Shop

Magazine article Marketing

Brand Builders: The Bread Shop

Article excerpt

This baker hopes to make the purchase of a loaf as much a daily ritual here as it is in Germany.

Sweet smells emanate from The Bread Shop in Chiswick High Street, where customers place fresh-baked loaves into handmade wooden shopping baskets, and sand art-style strata of grains and seeds used in the baking decorate the fittings.

The reverence in which bread is held by the owner, Jonathan Cohen, has allowed the store to shake off the staple's commoditised tag and fit surprisingly well into this artisan enclave of West London, where independents are fighting back against the tide of multiples.

Cohen's German background is evident as he waxes lyrical about his admiration for the tradition of bread-buying in his homeland. 'I loved it and missed it hugely here,' he says. 'People got up early to buy their daily bread. It was a ritual.'

His British schooling helped Cohen realise that his family's diamond business, based in Germany and Israel, held no attraction as a potential career. 'It was not creative or satisfying enough for me. It was simply selling jewellery.'

The idea of starting a bread business began to form in 1997. 'I knew of Adolf Katz, a baker based in Pforzheim, a town of about 100,000 people near Stuttgart. He owns about 60 bakeries there, so I got in touch, got him over to the UK, and told him my plans,' says Cohen. 'His business is over 100 years old, traditional and the best in the area. It made sense to approach him.'

The Bread Shop business is split 50:50 between Cohen and Katz. The first store opened in October 1999 in St John's Wood, North London, and it has taken a further six years to get around to opening the second shop in Chiswick. It will be swiftly followed by another - a kiosk in that bastion of North London retailing, Brent Cross.

Marketing and PR to support the growth has been in the hands of Cohen's wife, Natalie. While at Edelman PR, she worked on consumer accounts for Sony Ericsson, Birds Eye - and, she motions with disgust, Tesco.

The family's take on Tesco and the other major supermarket chains is that they are destroying the high street; indeed, a Tesco Express appeared not far from The Bread Shop only last year. But they also believe that traditional high-street bakers are at least partly responsible for their own demise.

'The problem is that they are just making the same stuff you can buy in supermarkets,' says Cohen. …

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