Leading bespoke cake and patisserie manufacturer La Crème Patisserie has bucked the pandemic trend by opening its first-ever dedicated retail store. The family-run business, which has manufacturing facilities in Neath and Cwmbran, has signed a 10-year lease on a 1200 square foot premises at 24-26 Llandaff High Street in Cardiff. The store will enable customers to purchase a wide range of high-end cakes, desserts and patisserie to take away.
La Crème Patisserie was founded in 2005 by the wife-and-husband team Sian and Ian Hindle. Managing Director and Head Pâtissier Sian previously worked in new product development for Tescos and always dreamed of running her own business.
With husband Ian as Financial Director, and three of the couple’s children in key operational roles, the business initially supplied large commercial customers such as The Celtic Manor, Hampton Court Palace and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
The company went from strength to strength, expanding to employ 18 people across two production facilities in Baglan and Cwmbran before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As many of the company’s biggest customers were in hospitality, the business was faced with an overnight drying up of orders and income. Sian and Ian took the swift decision to pivot its business model, to offer its high-end patisserie directly to consumers for the first time. Customers responded to this opportunity to purchase treats usually only available at luxury hotels and events in their thousands, first via word of mouth and then via a dedicated e-commerce site. Sian Hindle says it was this overwhelming response that gave the company the confidence to enter the retail market for the first time:
“After 15 years’ hard work building our family business into the UK’s leading manufacturer of bespoke high-end patisserie, the pandemic could have been devastating for us. We knew we had to move quickly to survive, and it made sense to allow customers to buy directly from us for the first time. What we didn’t expect was how incredible the response would be. Initially, we opened our manufacturing facilities so the public could collect orders from us, and the demand for that led to us launching an e-commerce site to sell afternoon tea boxes and other treats.
“The demand for online orders quickly soared, which allowed us to protect our income and many jobs. Having built a successful new business model from scratch in a matter of weeks, we didn’t want to let that go. Opening a retail store seemed like the obvious next step, and we hope that our new premises in Llandaff will be the first of many.”
La Crème Patisserie has been assisted by the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP), which provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. This support has been “invaluable” in navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic, according to Sian Hindle:
“The Accelerated Growth Programme has supported us with marketing, branding, grant funding, e-commerce and brand visuals for the new store. This highly targeted support has been instrumental in making our new business model a success. We are incredibly grateful for the help and guidance we have received during this critical time. We currently employ 22 people across our sites and aim to recruit ten more team members by the end of the year.”
Richard Morris of the Excelerator Consortium, which delivers the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme, said:
“It’s fantastic to see La Crème Patisserie, a real homegrown Welsh success story, opening its first retail store. The business has done remarkably well pivoting its business model during the pandemic. We all know that proof is in the pudding and in this case we can all enjoy the experience of their high-quality product. Sian and Ian have a fantastic multi-channel business and are taking an ambitious step onto our high streets.
“Like so many other businesses, they faced a crisis in early 2020 and navigated that challenge with incredible vision, courage and hard work. I’m confident that they will continue to enjoy the sweet taste of success with their first retail venture, and we look forward to supporting the business as it expands its retail operation over the coming months.”