The director of a family-run Derbyshire bakery which has been going strong for almost a century puts the secret of its success down to 3am starts and knowing what customers want.
Stacey’s - which has four shops in three towns and is well known for its bread and cakes - is soon to launch a breakfast range which will include bacon, sausage and omelette baps, using locally sourced dry cured bacon and Cumberland sausages. Gluten-free options will include bacon, sausage and omelette sandwiches.
Stacey’s history dates back to the First World War after Guy Stacey, the great-grandfather of current director David Stacey, was shot in the leg while serving as a Coldstream Guard. With the army no longer being an option he decided to open a bakery, with the first one based in Peterborough.
In the 1930s the Stacey family moved to Ilkeston and opened a bakery on Bath Street, not far from where its current Bath Street store stands. It was eventually run by Guy’s son Charles Stacey, his three sons and wife Doreen. As the business grew the bakery moved to larger premises on South Street. They also have a shop in Eastwood and one in Heanor which opened in March, 30 years after the South Street bakery opened.
David Stacey, 37, director of the company, said: “It would have been chaotic back in the 30s. It would have been so confined trying to run a bakery from a three-storey property – they would have been on top of each other.”
David, a dad to three girls, believes that people in Ilkeston are traditionalists and still enjoy going into town on a Saturday for a loaf of bread. However, the most popular items sold at Stacey’s are his daughters’ favourites - gingerbread men - with 300 to 400 sold every day.
He said: “I honestly think people in Ilkeston like their bread more than other areas. I don’t know if we caused this. We sell ten times more bread in Ilkeston than Heanor. People in Ilkeston like traditional things and have resisted the supermarket trend a bit more. People still come in on a Saturday shopping for bread. A lot of our recipes haven’t been touched which is hard to maintain with the quality of flour going up and down.”
Stacey’s still use traditional methods to guarantee the best bloomers in town. Their cake loaf (bloomer bread) is baked on the very bottom of the oven and is put in and peeled out by hand, which David says takes skill and is also time consuming.
“The name cake loaf derived from it being a bit more of a tasty loaf”, said David, “people would eat it as a substitute for their tea.”
With Stacey’s having been in business for so long there are some interesting stories that have been passed down the generations.
David said: “My grandfather set himself on fire once. There was a problem with an oven and he lit a match to see inside but it ignited the gas. He wrapped himself up to put the fire out and then just carried on. He burnt his face and was left with scars.
“Then in the winter of discontent in the 70s all the big bread makers went on strike so there was a massive demand for our bread. We couldn’t make it quick enough so in the end we just sold the dough so people could make their own bread at home. That’s when bread was a staple part of people’s diet and every customer would have bought a loaf.
Stacey’s is still very much a family business. David’s father Richard is semi-retired and still works there part-time, his brother Chris is full-time and his wife Lucie also used to work there.
“The job is hard but enjoyable at the same time, it’s not like you see on the Bake Off, it’s a slog a lot of the time,” said David.
The new breakfast range, which will also include porridge, Polish doughnuts, croissants and coffee, launched today (November 14) and will be served from 7am until 11am. A £2.20 meal deal will also be available.