The new owner of Abergavenny’s indoor market bakery, which was forced to shut for three months, says he’s in no doubt taking the business online has saved it during the pandemic.
“With the market closed for three months, I lost access to my customers, so I needed to find another way”
Lukasz Kowalski-Davies bought the business in February, just one month before lockdown. He shadowed the previous owner, before fully taking over the reins on 24th February, and rebranding as Market Bakery Abergavenny – KD’s Bake House.
However, when COVID-19 forced the indoor market to close in March, the bakery, which ran its business onsite, was left with no customers or income.
Lukasz said, “I was fortunate in that I was eligible for furlough, so I at least had some money coming in, but I had three months with no work. During that time, I thought what can I do? How can I develop what is a good established business?"
“I needed to reach out to customers online while I couldn’t serve them in person”
“Although historically the market has quite a traditional customer base, it had started drawing in younger people looking to shop local. They’re more likely to be online and I realised that if I was to keep the business going, I needed to be online too and engaging with them on social media.
“I had very little digital knowledge, so I contacted Superfast Business Wales. I attended a social media webinar and spoke to a business adviser, who gave me advice on how to create a website, Google listing, and social media presence from scratch, all of which I did during furlough. It gave me a head start when the market reopened early July because I had orders ready to go.”
The move online has helped increase sales and enabled Lukasz to bring back part-time staff from furlough.
“Before we worked with Superfast Business Wales on developing our online presence, we used to get all our enquiries and orders via phone whereas now at least 30% are from social media, and this number is growing,” explained Lukasz.
Regular ‘product of the week’ promotions on Facebook have also generated 20% more sales.
Lukasz said, “During these difficult times many people have changed their shopping habits and changed how they interact with others. As a small company, we are trying to move away from the old-fashioned image of a local market stall by becoming more available to our customers - old and new. Facebook helps us do that and gives us more opportunities to connect with customers.
“For us it is not just about selling online but also about feedback and improving our products and services.”
The bakery has also been doing home deliveries during the crisis, which Lukasz says has been particularly welcomed by people shielding and those unable to visit the market. “It’s important for us to support our local community, so we’ll continue doing it as long as we have capacity. It also helps top up our income while footfall is still low,” explained Lukasz.
“I’m looking to the future and putting my own stamp on the business”
“It’s been a challenging six months trying to keep my head above water as you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Prior to the Superfast Business Wales support I didn’t know much about digital technology, but now I’ve got the foundation to build the business for the future. It’s given me confidence going forward, and the reassurance that what I’m doing is right,” said Lukasz.
Market Bakery Abergavenny – KD’s Bake House can be found at the Abergavenny Indoor Market every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.