Supporting co-operative local businesses: Leeds Bread Co-op

5 November 2020

4 min read

Working co-operatively has been key to helping small businesses stay afloat during these unprecedented times. Back in May, we announced our accreditation to offer the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to our existing business customers. These government-backed lending initiatives were designed to support UK businesses that faced losing revenue and seeing their cash flow disrupted as a result of coronavirus. Leeds Bread Co-op is just one of the many businesses that we’ve been able to support in this way.

Leeds Bread Co-op is a small artisan bakery and worker’s co-operative. They are passionate about sourdough and slowly fermented breads made using organic, locally-sourced ingredients for wholesale, local retailers and for customers to buy at local markets and from their bakery shop. Coronavirus massively impacted their business due to a large decrease in sales to wholesale customers, who make up 75% of their income, as most of them had to close because of government restrictions in Spring.

They initially decided to cease trading for the safety of their staff and local community. When they began trading again, sales were a fraction of their pre-lockdown levels and it was impossible to predict how much sales might increase in the coming months. With overheads still to pay and the uncertainty of the months ahead, they chose to apply to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to give them a buffer and ensure they had enough money in the bank to help them through the year ahead whilst they assessed and planned for what the future of the business may look like.

The Co-operative Bank was able to support Leeds Bread Co-op with a Bounce Back Loan. With this support, the team have been able to make some substantial changes to their structure and to staff roles, in order to create a more flexible, sustainable and co-operative business model, without having to worry about running out of cash in the short or medium term. Without this, the team acknowledge that the business probably wouldn’t have been able to survive in the longer term.

Leeds Bread Co-op have also had to make several internal changes to their working practices to ensure they are Covid-19 Secure, such as introducing staggered shift patterns, facilitating working from home, adding infection control measures, etc. They’ve also introduced a new click and collect service and home deliveries, allowing them to continue serving their customers safely in these challenging times.

Lizzie Fellows, Finance and HR at Leeds Bread Co-op said “Having the money in the bank and knowing there is cash on hand to help us through such difficult times is a big relief.”

You can find out more about Leeds Bread Co-op on their website.

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