A tasty opportunity

Cake Hut is successfully combining the mass appeal for cake products with the rapid growth of the ‘free-from’ segment. Will Daynes reports on how this exciting venture is creating food heaven for those with an allergy to one of cake’s more traditional ingredients.

The word allergy all too often conjures up thoughts of hay fever. Look deeper of course and one realises that allergic reactions come in all forms of severity and can be traced back to any number of sources, be it chemicals, medicines or foods. One food allergy, estimated to affect millions of people across the world, comes in the form of hypersensitivity to dietary substances from the yolk or whites of eggs.

Proven potential

Eggs are a staple of numerous household recipes and having an allergy to them immediately limits a host of food options, including many traditional cake products. This brings us to Cake Hut, a network of bright, modern cake boutiques selling cake slices, bespoke celebration cakes and other sweet treats that are totally egg-free.

By offering egg-free products, Cake Hut combines the market appeal of cake with one of retail’s fastest growing areas, the ‘free-from’ segment. According to a report by Kantar Worldpanel, world leaders in consumer knowledge and insights, total sales in the ‘free-from’ segment rose 24.8 per cent between 2011 and 2013, to just under £300 million per year, over £63 million of which was accounted for by ambient bakery products. Kantar Worldpanel findings also indicate that 55.2 per cent of Britons are today regularly purchasing ‘free-from’ products.

A similar report, this time within The Grocer, estimates that over half of all UK households now buy ‘free-from’ products on a regular basis. Meanwhile, the cake and bakery sector continues to thrive, with overall sales growing by 1.7 per cent in 2013, thus reaching a value of £1.8 billion.

One man’s vision

Cake Hut is the brainchild of Hardial Sanga, a man who, over the course of 25 years in the bakery sector has seen his businesses supplying cakes to prestigious names including the National Exhibition Centre, Drayton Manor Park, Millie’s Cookies, Co-op, Iceland and Aldi. Cake Hut offers an extremely tempting proposition, utilising its eggless ethos to tap into what has before been a somewhat ignored market of cake lovers. The first fully branded Cake Hut boutique opened in Walsall in June 2013, becoming an immediate success. A second shop, this one in Handsworth, soon followed and both have been breaking revenue targets ever since. With each passing week the Cake Hut brand is becoming better known amongst various market segments, meanwhile the appeal within the Asian community for egg-free cakes has made this its largest customer demographic.

Hatching a plan

The Cake Hut goal is to develop a national network that is universally respected. Using tried and trusted methodologies, along with the skills and strengths of its franchise owners, Cake Hut aims to become the first name in freshly baked egg-free cakes. In return, franchise owners can look forward to enjoying invaluable skills training, a proven business formula, personalised support and exclusive access to Cake Hut’s signature recipes. The comprehensive training programme that Cake Hut provides its new franchise owners centres around three weeks of hands-on operational training. During this time, new owners each receive CIEH Level 1 and 2 training in food safety. Furthermore, a five-day Franchise Business Management course is provided, as well as completion training for a period of up to five days at the franchise owner’s location.

In addition to the aforementioned training programmes, Cake Hut also provides initial launch support, including a professionally designed PR programme, marketing tools, templates and expert guidance, as well as a shop fit management service, designed to make light work of the conversion of premises into a unique, eye-catching Cake Hut boutique. As if that wasn’t enough, new franchise owners will also receive an initial stock of marketing materials, a stock of branded consumables and branded uniforms for up to five Cake Hut employees.

As the launch date for a new boutique approaches, Cake Hut, as a franchisor, will provide the franchise owner with professional launch support. This is developed by both in-house and contracted PR experts, and is designed to help Cake Hut franchise owners quickly raise brand awareness in their territory. At a minimum, this includes a local public and press relations campaign to support the launch, marketing templates and tools, and guidance on high-impact initial marketing activities.

Going for growth

Once the doors open at the new boutique, the franchise owner is able to run their business safe in the knowledge that they will have access to ongoing support services from Cake Hut. These services include a helpline facility, access to a dedicated Franchise Manager, regular network communications, periodic visits, national conferences and the fruits of a constant process of product research and development.

It is Cake Hut’s intention that each and every franchise owner has quick and easy access to the help they need in order to realise the full commercial potential of their Cake Hut franchise. Indeed, the brand is keen to point out that although its franchise owners may be in business for themselves, they are never in business alone. Cake Hut has invested heavily in the development of its brand, while at the same time working tirelessly to earn a reputation for excellence. Therefore, its franchise owners can look forward to being able to trade under a respected name that boasts a strong web, and growing high street, presence.

As its franchise business network develops, Cake Hut’s franchise owners will benefit increasingly from targeted national and regional promotional activity designed to boost brand awareness. The result of this activity will ultimately lead to Cake Hut franchise owners sharing the benefits of a widely recognised and respected brand name.