A regional business support programme has given the owner of an independent bakery in Coventry the secret ingredients to post-lockdown success, helping revenue to double.
The owner of artisan cake business Sugar & Spice, Shiksha Gill, has praised the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce for its role in bringing about a two-fold profit increase in the space of a year and building a substantial customer base across the city and beyond.
Shiksha, 25, who has run Sugar & Spice from her home in Coundon since January 2020, now has her sights set on moving into a permanent premises and employing her first member of staff after utilising advice given to her as part of the Chamber’s Accelerated Growth programme.
The bakery makes personalised cakes and seasonal treats influenced by her Indian heritage available to order online and via social media, delivering throughout Coventry and Warwickshire and as far as Hinckley and Birmingham.
After a steady first year where Shiksha adapted to the early challenges of the pandemic, the Coventry resident noticed a decline in sales and sought support from the Chamber’s Accelerated Growth programme.
She received tailored advice from Russell Grant, Business Advisor at the Chamber, on how to refocus her business and plan for the future, with an emphasis on financial forecasting and building personal relationships with corporate partners and customers.
Shiksha said streamlining her menu and boosting her online presence have been crucial to her success over the last year, as well as running a loyalty scheme and engaging with other local businesses for wholesale catering opportunities.
She is now taking advantage of in-person events after restrictions were lifted earlier this year to further grow her brand’s reputation.
She said: “The advice I have received from Russell and the Chamber has been absolutely instrumental in getting the most out of my business during a time when others have been struggling.
“The growth has been noticeable not just in balance sheets and cash flow forecasts, but in my online interactions with customers and the number of opportunities I have to attend local markets and events.
“I could not be more grateful for the support that I have been given. It has made me aware that despite running a business by myself there is so much potential for growth if you are prepared to get your name out there and build connections with other businesses and the general public.”
Sugar and Spice has also been nominated in the annual Chamber of Commerce Awards for The Problem Solver Business Diversification Award, supported by Cisco.
The award celebrates businesses that have either transformed the market that they operate in or their product or service in order to gain a strong position in their market.
Russell Grant, business adviser at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce said: “It is fantastic to see the way that Shiksha’s business has developed so strongly over the course of this year since getting in touch with us in February.
“It is the sign of an astute business leader that she was so eager to seek out advice and implement that guidance into her day-to-day operations. She works extremely hard and deserves all of her success, but we are delighted to have helped her along the way.”
The Accelerated Growth Programme is part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Support Programme and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and by Coventry City Council.