Polish baker offers a taste of home
A POLISH baker in Old Hurst is seeing his business fortunes rise faster than his bread – by giving his countrymen an authentic taste of home. Marcin Laskowski developed the idea for Bakery Eunice after arriving from Poland in 2004. He missed his home comf
A POLISH baker in Old Hurst is seeing his business fortunes rise faster than his bread - by giving his countrymen an authentic taste of home.
Marcin Laskowski developed the idea for Bakery Eunice after arriving from Poland in 2004. He missed his home comforts, with Polish bread at the top of the list, and found many of his fellow Poles felt the same.
"A lot of shops have started to sell Polish bread and other products, but often they are not the same, especially the bread," said Mr Laskowski. "I wanted to make our traditional bread with Polish ingredients to make sure the taste was perfect."
Mr Laskowski is already fulfilling his ambition - within five months of setting up he has begun to turn a profit and now supplies bread, rolls and cakes to more than 45 shops from Bedford to King's Lynn every day.
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Mr Laskowski was inspired to set up the business when he became friends with a baker while working as a lorry driver at Dairy Crest in Fenstanton.
With advice from Business Link East, he developed a business plan and acquired premises on a business park in Old Hurst in October 2009. Bakery Eunice - an Anglicised version of his Eunika's name - began baking in November, and by December was successful enough for Mr Laskowski to go full-time.
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He said: "I knew it could be a success, because food from home is something people find very important - I know that because I was the customer. I remember the first time my wife went to Tesco and saw that she could buy Polish products, she began to cry."
To get the authentic Polish taste, Bakery Eunice imports 24 tonnes of flour from Poland every month, and sources only salt, sugar and yeast locally. The only other Polish bakeries doing the same are located in London, Manchester and Birmingham, leaving a huge Polish population in the East for Bakery Eunice to supply.
He now employs three full-time Polish bakers, and he and another driver deliver on a daily basis across the region.
"Normally they say the oven is the heart of the bakery, but my three bakers are the second heart," Mr Laskowski. "They make the bread just as they do at home, and we can deliver it fresh so you can taste the difference."
Dominic O'Sullivan of Business Link, who has helped Mr Laskowski establish Bakery Eunice, said that success had come even sooner than they had anticipated.
"I knew that he could make a success of the business because of the passion he had, but the growth has been incredible," said Mr O'Sullivan.
"He's tapped into a very powerful market - when people live abroad, genuine home comforts become like currency. There is no shortage of customers, and Marcin has worked his socks off to make the business work. This could be just the tip of the iceberg."
Mr Laskowski - he and Eunika have children Olivia, three, and month-old Dominic - has been able to improve the offerings at shops that previously stocked Polish products, and demonstrate the potential market to those who did not.
An early success came on Fat Thursday, a traditional Polish celebration before the start of Lent similar to Pancake Day, for which Bakery Eunice produced over 2,500 Polish doughnuts.
Mr Laskowski said: "I made sure every shop had enough doughnuts for the day - most thought they would need about 20, but I knew the demand would be bigger. I took 120 to one shop, and they phoned back at lunchtime begging me to bring more. They didn't know how popular it would be.