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Comment: Bakery goods on fire

Visits to my local Lidl store had typically been few and far between but once they’d introduced a bakery section I’ve been through the door much… View Article


Comment: Bakery goods on fire

Visits to my local Lidl store had typically been few and far between but once they’d introduced a bakery section I’ve been through the door much more frequently.

And it would seem I’m not the only person who nips in for pastries and breads with great regularity.

Lidl was the most popular supermarket bakery last month, according to data from Kantar, selling an average of 122 croissants every minute and one jam doughnut every second apparently. I’m only guilty of helping with the former but my small contribution has helped freshly baked bread, cakes or pastries find their way into 25% of shoppers’ baskets.

Its market share of in-store bakery in the grocery sector has exploded from 10.2% in January 2023 to 18.2% in March 2024. This has been further fuelled by the offer of occasional free baked goods to holders of its Lidl Plus loyalty app, which has worked a treat on driving footfall and pushed volumes of in-store bakery items up by over 40%

It is not only an appetite for Lidl’s baked goods that British consumers have acquired because the sector as a whole seems to be on something of a tear (and share). Leading the pack is undoubtedly Greggs that seems unable to put out a statement without it including an upgrade on the potential number of stores it reckons it can open around the UK.

It recently announced it had opened its 2,500th outlet and that it was beginning a five-year growth plan that would take it to 3,000 stores. What is making this possible is the fact Greggs can pretty much open outlets anywhere and in myriad formats. It has just opened its 50th store with supermarket partners and a current focus for this year is boosting its units in travel hubs and roadside locations. And right on cue the company’s property director Tony Rowson recently suggested the company has a vision for “significantly more than 3,000 Greggs shops longer term”.

But don’t think the current taste for baked goods is centred only on the affordable end of the market because there is plenty of proof that there is strong demand across the spectrum as seen by the continued growth of Gail’s Bakery. Its croissants might be £2.55 versus more like 60p in Lidl but they are still finding a receptive audience. The bakery brand recently opened its first in-store bakery counter with Waitrose that adds to the 60-plus concessions it has in the supermarket’s stores.

Gail’s currently operates 125 stores but the company’s management forecasts there are 300-500 locations in which the brand could fit. The theory is clearly already being tested as the first units in the North West opened last year around Manchester and the South West has enjoyed its first outlet with a branch in Bristol having opened only this month.

This activity occurs at a time when bagels are becoming something of a hot thing in London with a variety of brands opening up units including It’s Bagels, Roni’s Bagels, Bagel Factory and B Bagel. A visit to the Primrose Hill store in North London of It’s Bagels will invariably involve a queue but this is nothing particularly unusual right now because there are a growing number of small independent bakeries who’s sales have gone into the stratosphere as a result of their signature items being picked up on Instagram.

Currently in the eye of the Instagram storm is Fortitude Bakery that invariably features queues around the block for its famed beignets. I’d like to say that they are worth every penny but I’m afraid I did not have the required fortitude to wait for over an hour for its impressive output. My visits to Lidl do often involve me joining rather long queues but the supermarket has at least mastered the art of fast-moving queues, as well as delivering very affordable and tasty pastries.

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