While Covid-19 has signalled the end of several unfortunate businesses, the pandemic has come to the rescue of an award-winning businesswoman who aims to recreate the success of the home-delivered greetings card industry with celebration cakes.
Andrea Guzyova, founder of Treats and Bites, has seen takings more than double during lockdown, just months after launching a new company.
The success of her business marks a turning point for the former greetings card company executive, who believes she has the formula to create the first personalised cake delivery service.
Nottinghamshire-based Treats and Bites, which trades under the name bakerdays, allows buyers to design their own cakes, cupcakes, and helium balloons and to create bespoke gift sets with their own photos and have them delivered anywhere in the UK and across Europe.
A previous cake delivery business co-founded by Andrea grew from scratch to £1.5million turnover and employed more than a dozen staff within five years. Its success was reflected in a higher profile for Andrea who was shortlisted for a Women in Business award.
However, the demands of creating an entirely new business model in a highly competitive market, saw the company run into difficulties and last year Andrea was forced to take it through a company voluntary agreement (CVA).
The business was subsequently acquired by London-based equity investment group ESP, which invited her to return as managing director. She has now agreed a repayment plan with several bakerdays’ creditors and has been able to move forward.
Several of her suppliers and employees have returned, allowing her to take-up where the previous business left off, helping to meet unprecedented demand caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.
She said: “What has really seen business really take-off has been the change in people’s behaviour due to the lockdown.
“Ironically, the coronavirus hit at an opportune moment for the new company which has benefitted from a surge of orders.”
With restrictions on group celebrations and parties, bakerdays’ letterbox gift cakes have enabled families, friends, and colleagues to remotely celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
“I made it a priority to contact customers who had been affected by the closure and to provide a free cake for every unfulfilled order. Most of them have taken us up on this.
“Having maintained good relationships with previous suppliers, we reopened those contracts with a view to recovering any losses and maintaining positive working relationships.
“We also managed to attract several of our previous employees who are pleased to be back with the business.”
Andrea’s previous company, also called bakerdays, was founded in 2011 and it grew quickly along with the physical expansion of the site.
She said: “Increased demand required the development of a new website with improved personalisation software, to accommodate the growth and to boost our conversion rate.
“After careful selection, a new development company was brought onboard to deliver the website and the immediate impact was a 60% drop in revenue because of the effect on our SEO ranking and other technical issues.”
Forced to invest more heavily in paid, online advertising, the website incurred ranking penalties that resulted in a significant drop in profit margins.
Taking the company into a CVA was an emotional wrench for Andrea, but she knew she had no choice.
“When ESP approached me to return as managing director it was a no brainer. I didn’t want to look back and think ‘what if’ and so I jumped at the chance,” she said.
“I believed there was an exciting future for the business because demand for our products was high, so having the investment from ESP, coupled with a strong determination to succeed has pulled us through.”
The new company continues to use fresh ingredients for all its products. There is also the option of vegan, gluten, wheat, and dairy free recipes. Increased demand since April meant the business has had to recruit additional staff and to occupy bigger premises.
“What it has taught me is the importance of being able to adapt to changing circumstances and always to have a back-up plan for any major changes you make to your business.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it’s clear now that bakerdays was too heavily reliant on paid advertising rather than building our customer base organically, based on building a solid foundation.
“We’re doing that now and it’s gratifying to see that bakerdays had built a reputation for quality and reliability from which its successor is now benefitting.”
For more information visit https://www.bakerdays.com