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Alex Poulter – East Bristol Bakery

Whilst unemployment is certainly an issue in Bristol, there are also many people working in unfulfilling minimum wage roles, searching for more stability and direction. A great example of this is Outset Bristol client Alex Poulter.

Prior to 2009 Alex didn’t have a set career path or any real direction, frequently moving between minimum wage jobs in shops and bars. Although he enjoyed aspects of this work he never found it fulfilling, and was constantly considering what else he could be doing.

Following a year of constantly baking for housemates, colleagues, family and friends, Alex pushed himself to fit in a day a week of work experience with a baker around his full time job. When it became clear that this was the career path he wanted to follow, and finding no suitable vacancies locally, he decided to set about opening his own bakery.

Having put together a business plan and having a clear vision for the business, Alex still felt that there were gaps in his experience that the Outset programme would be able to help fill. He joined the Outset Bristol programme in August 2012 and found that it covered even more than he first thought: “I actually found the course to be more useful than just ‘filling in the gaps’ because it helped build my confidence in areas which I thought I already understood by re-enforcing my understanding and by introducing other aspects of business planning which I hadn’t considered.”

The networking and support he gained from the Outset Bristol programme proved invaluable to Alex: “I found it encouraging to talk to other people embarking on a new venture, and have made friends with a couple of people off my course – exchanging experiences and trading with each other”.

East Bristol Bakery officially launched in October 2012, and now employs 4 staff, with a turnover of £100k in year one. It’s a traditional craft bakery in the heart of the community, making simple, tasty bread without any unnecessary additives or ingredients. They also make cakes to a variety of dietary requirements, winning “Best Local Cake” at the 2013 Bristol Good Food Awards. The focus for the business is to build local ties and grow within the Bristol food scene from their premises on St. Marks Road. Although their primary focus is on their retail customers, they are expanding their wholesale cake business. In the future they aim to open a café/bar to complement the bakery and maintain the face-to-face interaction with their customers.

Outset Bristol has been funded by Bristol City Council and the European Regional Development Fund, and delivers free business start-up workshops in community venues across Bristol.

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