Fresh thinking from The Hive

10 September 2021

3 min read

People working at the Leeds Bread Co-op

The Hive is a programme of support for new and existing co operatives. Created by Co-operatives UK, in partnership with The Co-operative Bank, it's for people wanting to start a co-operative or an existing organisation looking to strengthen or grow.

The Co-operative Bank has committed to £1.7m of funding to help towards providing vital advice, tools and mentoring to new and growing co-operatives and community enterprises. An investment that has so far helped nearly 1,000 groups and co-operatives to grow skills, create sustainable businesses and build a better society.

One of those businesses that recently benefitted from the expertise and resources available from The Hive is a co-operative of bakers based in Leeds.

With organic, locally sourced ingredients, Leeds Bread Co-op are artisan bakers who have a genuine passion for making real bread like sourdough and slow fermented breads. They bake their delicious breads, six times a week, delivering direct to customers, and selling at local markets.

But that's only half the story. They pride themselves on producing their real bread in a socially and environmentally responsible way. They've also created a 'food hub' where other small food businesses can realise their own visions by collaborating and supporting each other.

The bakery also hosts food-based workshops and classes to give budding bakers the opportunity to shape their cooking and baking skills.

How did The Hive help?

The team at the Leeds Bread Co-op will be the first to tell you that they’re bakers, not business people.

That's where The Hive came in, helping to raise their profile and offering support with strategic planning. They gave them the right mix of ingredients to enable them move to bigger premises which has helped them to grow their customer base and bring in a fresh batch of bakers to build the business.

The Hive was on hand when they needed the advice and guidance to expand and move the co-operative business to the next level.

Phil, from Leeds Bread Co-op said: "There was so much support when we started out. It is eminently possible if you really are motivated. It’s hard work, but it’s very rewarding."

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