Sam’s Bakery – Sam’s Portuguese food empire goes from strength to strength

06/06/2017
In 2008, Sam Pinto decided to start a specialist Portuguese bakery from his home. His delicious handmade Portuguese rolls, crispy custard tarts, sweet potato loaf and other traditional bread, were all baked in a wood-burning oven.

Sam’s products quickly grew in popularity, which meant his domestic kitchen was unsuitable for the high demand and it was putting a strain on his relationship with his neighbours. The Jersey Environmental Health agency was also becoming concerned about the home bakery creating a nuisance in a residential community.

Moving from home to commercial premises

Says Sam: “In those early days we only had the capacity to make 150 rolls at a time. So, as demand grew, it meant keeping the wood-burning oven working through the night to ensure we could fulfil all our orders. As you can imagine, it wasn’t popular with our neighbours. But at the time we had no idea how quickly things would take off. Eventually we realised it was time to move the business to a more suitable place and in 2009 the Funchal Bakery, as it was called then, found a new home in Georgetown.”

After the move to commercial premises, Sam’s business continued to grow, and he secured commercial contracts with the local hospital, retailers and the hospitality sector. Then news broke that the Islands largest bakery was to close. Almost ‘overnight’, Sam’s baked goods were in more demand than ever.

Growing a business and meeting a sudden high demand brings a new set of challenges

Sam explains: “Starting a business from scratch is one thing, but growing a business and meeting a sudden high demand for your products brings an entirely new set of challenges. After the closure of Cimandis, the largest bakery on the Island, we had to increase our output of products to a level we had never considered before. It also became apparent that we needed some help to make sure we managed our expansion in the right way.”

In 2013, Sam contacted Jersey Business to get some advice on how to develop and expand the business. At this point, it was clear that the Funchal Bakery premises in Georgetown wasn’t big enough to meet the demand and there was no room to put Sam’s future business ideas into place.

Sam’s had a vision to build a Portuguese food business to include the bakery, a café, restaurant and a delicatessen. The plan was to move away from the Funchal Bakery brand towards something more informal and personal that had the potential to diversify into other food-based businesses in the future.

Enormous scope to develop Sam’s brand of speciality food products from Portugal

Sam explains: “The Cimandis bakery closure was primarily due to the amount of imported bread coming into the Island in recent years. Yet at the same time, we were right in the middle of a groundswell of interest in locally produced artisan food products. We believed there was enormous scope to develop our brand and our speciality products from Portugal and Madeira. However, to take things to the next level, I needed some guidance on how to capitalise on the opportunity. Jersey business helped me in several ways.

“Firstly, they helped me get all my ideas together into a well organised and thought-through business plan. This made everything seem real and actionable. The second key area of assistance was branding. Nick and the team at Jersey Business were very helpful in suggesting ideas, and they helped me take the necessary steps to get a whole new brand that included a new logo, website and of course a new name, which became Sam’s Bakery & Café.

Assisting with the Jersey Environmental Health Agency

“Back in the early days of the business, when we were running it from home, we ran into some difficulties with the Environmental Health Agency. Jersey Business were helpful in smoothing things over with regards to our expansion plans.

The Georgetown bakery premises were far too small, so we needed to find a new location that allowed us to meet our existing demand and grow. Jersey Business assisted in helping us negotiate lease agreements and guided us through all the administrative red tape involved in securing new business premises.

“On top of all that, they are always very supportive, and I always have the impression they are on my side and want me to succeed. They know everyone, understand how all the Jersey agencies work, and have the experience and expertise to help businesses get things done.

“I’d recommend anyone starting a business on the Island, or anyone looking to develop their business to talk to Jersey Business before they make any big decisions.”

Sam’s business empire is now in full swing

The Funchal Bakery is now known as Sam’s Bakery & Café and has a new brand, and a new purpose built premises in Saint Saviour. Sam’s Restaurant is now in full swing in the Fish Market area of the Island, and there are plans to open a new deli next door to the restaurant selling traditional Portuguese meats, sausages, cheeses and many of the products used in the restaurant. Not surprisingly, this will be called Sam’s Deli.

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