Describe your business and your customers
Latham’s of Broughton is a bakery business specialising in traditional handmade cakes and desserts. Gwen Latham started the business in 1974, baking cakes in her kitchen and supplying local catering businesses in Preston, Lytham and St.Annes. The company has grown steadily over the years and now employs 90 people and remains family owned and run.
The typical Latham’s customer has a discerning interest in quality food and drink. They value the Latham’s commitment to producing delicious, handmade cakes made fresh every day.
When did you start supplying Booths?
We began supplying Booths is 2005 with a range of fresh desserts and cakes sold from the serve-over counter. The supply relationship has developed over the years and the company now supplies ready-to-eat pre-pack desserts, whole cakes and a range of frozen products. Our cakes are made fresh every day and we have made a commitment to deliver to Booths the same day they are made.
Why did you want to supply Booths?
Booths offered a good fit for our business. We share the same target customers and their regional retail footprint meant we could expand into new geographical areas. Supplying Booths meant we could expand and grow, but in a realistic and sustainable way.
Describe the supply relationship with Booths
Our relationship with Julian Valentine, the Booths cake buyer is very good. The Booths open-book policy means we can see a full break down of sales and costs and agree a fair price for our product.
At the start of each year we agree a promotional plan and marketing contribution. This allows us to plan cash flow and production schedules well in advance. Our promotions achieve at least a 4 fold increase in sales (some cases it is 7 – 8 times). This gives us the confidence to reduce our cost price for the promotional period as we know we can recover the reduction in margin through sales volume.
What are the challenges to supplying Booths?
Sourcing appropriate packaging and labelling have been the biggest challenges. Selling fresh food in a supermarket environment means packaging must be robust, attractive and cost effective. It took us a great deal of effort to source suitable packaging.
What do you need to do to stay in Booths?
We need to ensure quality and service levels are maintained and that we are constantly innovating our product offer – this includes both product type and format. We do this by staying informed with what’s happening in the UK and overseas as well as maintaining a regular dialogue with Julian to test any new ideas we may have.
What advice would you give to producers wanting to supply Booths?
You need to bring products that will work in a retail environment. This includes appropriate shelf life (10 days for an ambient cake), robust packaging and something that fits the profile of the Booths shopper.
Smaller suppliers need to be ready for volume (28 stores) and respond to demand increases very quickly, especially during seasonal periods. You also need to be prepared to promote your products, carry out in-store tastings and sometimes take a reduction in margin to drive sales volume through promotions.
Booths are a very good business to work with, they are open and honest, and genuinely interested in building relationships with good suppliers.
Michael Benson, Head of Sales