Getting to know you: Steve Grocutt

The Cornish Bakery Steve Grocutt

We talk to Steve Grocutt about his inspirations in business, and ask if there is anything he would have done differently given the chance.

What do you currently do?

I run a chain of bakeries called The Cornish Bakery which is a company I funded and founded.

Last year our 34 stores underwent a major, national rebrand which included new branding and styling, a name change (we were previously known as Pasty Presto) as well as a new in-store interior and customer proposition. Our rebrandhas already received a Design Effectiveness Award.

With stores now right across England & The Channel Islands, and despite recent industry challenges that have seen a number of competitors go out of business, with inherent innovation, constant brand attention and evolution and on-going hard work, in 2015 The Cornish Bakery saw a year on year uplift in like for like sales 10 per cent. This is a record sales year and, as a result, at least five new store openings are planned before summer 2016.

Whilst continually offering the traditional ‘World Champion pasty’, our Cornish Bakery ethos has always been about differentiating ourselves and our products whilst continually delivering the finest of quality. We are also always delighted to work with the very best Cornish suppliers and stock their premium products. Since our inception, we’ve masterminded a range of somewhat unexpected pasty flavours such as Thai Chicken, Spicy Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Feta, Westcountry Pork & Apple as well as sweet pasties including Apple Rhubarb and Custard. We also offer smaller, top quality Cornish pasties as well as ‘picnic’ style sandwiches, cakes and pastries alongside the ever-popular Union coffee. Our latest product, the Cornish clotted cream ice-cream ‘Whipster’ has also gone down a storm in our seaside stores.

What is your inspiration business?

I could name a number of companies, however, any company that prides itself on its quality and that truly provides a great product and service, empowering all its people to put the customer first, is a winner in my book.

Who do you admire?

Anyone who can create and develop a first class business that is respected, sets new standards and is a great place to work, again catches my eye.

Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?

I founded the company and mostly led all the development and direction. I’ve learned to step away from doing it all, allowing me much more time to be strategic and the difference has been immediate. Looking back, I wish I’d made this move earlier, recruiting top people and allowing them the opportunity to drive forward the day-to-day.

By setting good foundations, my strategic thinking and planning has now taken us into a major rebrand, with a clear direction of who and what we are and with more scope to expand.

The last few years have seen us tackling a challenging backdrop including the on-going detrimental effect of the Government ‘Pasty Tax’, and the on-going issue of the recession hitting many of the locations where we have stores.

We could have opted to sell up or sell-out. However, we decided to meet the situation head on with an ambitious growth and brand investment strategy, enlisting the help of our creative agencies. The results have been transformational in so many ways, and again I wish I’d looked for and taken this strategic external assistance earlier.

What defines your way of doing business?

We take our inspiration from brand Cornwall and encourage our colleagues and customers to share their ‘Cornish Moments’ as this always comes first

The Cornish Bakery harnesses the Cornish spirit and will touch customer emotions with captivating Cornish imagery and chic seaside feel, all wrapped up with the Cornish cool spirit. Our customers step inside The Cornish Bakery and reminisce about long, lazy days spent on the coast whilst taking a moment to enjoy the present. And, if they haven’t been to Cornwall, then The Cornish Bakery can be their first taste of what this enchanting county is all about.

Our social media platforms, showcase the contemporary Cornish lifestyle, as well as our products, and have become a hub for sharing Cornish memories and inspiration which, in turn, drive customer loyalty and interaction.

We have also created a strong, clear vision and values that our employees agreed and engage with. We have a clear purpose, we love Cornwall and therefore we are all advocates of the Cornish Bakery , collectively inviting people in and sharing that experience.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Don’t rest on your laurels and be brave in business but be very clear in your understanding that if you think you need to put in 100 per cent, this is never the case. It’s always more like 150 per cent of what you expect so you need to be ready to go lots of extra miles for way longer than you ever think!