Sheffield bakery firm is expanding fast

Pictured l to r, Susan Gravill, company secretary, John Emes, managing director, Adrian Barnard, bakery manager, Sharon Callaghan, sales manager at Brook Bakery.
Pictured l to r, Susan Gravill, company secretary, John Emes, managing director, Adrian Barnard, bakery manager, Sharon Callaghan, sales manager at Brook Bakery.

A Sheffield bakery is seeing its profits rise and employing new staff after benefitting from a unique scheme designed to help up-skill employees and grow business.

Brook Bakery, headed by brother and sister team John Emes and Sue Gravill, has recently opened it’s fifth shop and employed five new members of staff, bringing total staff numbers to 53.

The Wincobank-based Bakery has also quadrupled in size, relocating its headquarters from a 4, 500 sq ft base into a new 22, 000 sq ft site.

Total staff numbers have now grown from 47 to 53.

The expansion came after John and Sue enlisted the help of the Government-backed Skills Made Easy programme after becoming concerned that its different divisions were not communicating effectively, resulting in increased production costs and waste.

More than 40 members of staff participated in the four month training programme, between February and May.

The scheme saw cleaners, bakers, shop managers, delivery drivers, pickers, office staff and company directors come together to complete workshops to improve skills and examine specific issues facing the business.

Since completing the programme in May, the bakery has already reported significant cost savings, improved productivity and has opened the doors of its latest outlet in Woodhouse.

Sue Gravill, director, said: “As the business has grown, we recognised many of the systems and processes we relied upon for years were no longer fit for purpose.

“We approached Skills Made Easy to see if they could offer any guidance in helping to improve the way in which our business operates as we realised that this was impacting upon the performance of the company.

“During the process, Skills Made Easy helped us to secure funding for training which has not only helped members of staff across the business work towards completing NVQ qualifications, but it’s also helped us to forge stronger links between the different departments, rather than working in isolation which used to be the norm.”

She added: “As part of the training we saw bakers spend time in the shops, retail managers help out on the delivery lines and even senior members of staff returning to the production lines.

“The process helped to create a much greater understanding of how the business operates.

“But equally importantly many of the changes we’ve implemented in the business is as a direct result of suggestions made by members of staff.

“Since completing the programme, we’ve seen significant reductions in waste and increased productivity as a direct result of better communication.

“This has meant we’ve been able to invest in future business growth.”

Laura Hayfield, programme manager at Skills Made Easy, added: “We recognise that every business faces unique challenges.

“There are no strings, and no costs to the employer and the free services we provide help companies to not only increase productivity, but also lay down the foundations for future growth.”

The bakery recorded a turnover of £1.2m last year.

Business owners can get more information about Skills Made Easy’s online at or ring 0114 229 6183.