Boyce’s Bakery to open 12th location in the former Shoe Zone in the Rainham Shopping Precinct

A successful family bakery will open its 12th location in a city mall on Friday.

With skyrocketing energy bills and the rising cost of flour, many of the UK’s independent bakeries are struggling to earn a crust.

But Boyce’s, which has 11 stores in Kent and is about to open its biggest store in the Rainham Shopping Precinct, bucks the trend.

Keith Boyce outside the new branch in Rainham
Keith Boyce outside the new branch in Rainham

The company has gone from strength to strength since Keith and Karen Boyce opened their business 25 years ago.

His latest venture will open seven days a week in the empty Shoe Zone facility and offer around 20 new jobs.

The couple, along with their son Tommy Boyce, daughter Stacey Canty, and husband Nic, are looking forward to their latest adventure. Tommy’s wife, Gemma, also helps with training new staff and launching stores, including the Rainham outlet.

Tommy credits his success over the years in large part to luck and keeping up with customer needs.

Boyce's Bakery Owner Tommy Boyce
Boyce’s Bakery Owner Tommy Boyce
Boyce's Bakery is opening in the former Rainham Shoe Zone.  Image: Maria Jarvis
Boyce’s Bakery is opening in the former Rainham Shoe Zone. Image: Maria Jarvis

The father-of-two said: “You can’t beat a loaf of bread bought from a bakery, but we’ve moved away from the traditional market. Our hot savory dishes work well and we’re popular with builders who come in for breakfast.”

“Older customers like more traditional cakes, like bread pudding, and we do business with moms on the school run.

“We’ve managed to keep up with demand despite rising prices.”

The family began by touring 16 markets across the county before focusing on stores.

Tommy said: “We always wanted to go to Rainham and we lost our chance when Greggs moved away. It’s special to us because for 10 years we used to do the market out of the shoe store.

“I think it helps to work as a family: we’re all in the same boat. I have two young children to feed. It’s a case of working together.”

A map showing Boyce's Bakery stores in Kent
A map showing Boyce’s Bakery stores in Kent

So what’s next for the Boyce family? Tommy said: “We opened the first one in Leysdown and I’d love to open another on the island and maybe West Malling too.”

They already have 11 branches across the county: Leysdown, Sheerness, Brambledown, Edenbridge, Allington, Gillingham, Parkwood (Rainham), Canterbury, Herne Bay, Hoo and Snodland.

Known for its freshly baked bread and tempting homemade cakes, the business started on the Isle of Sheppey when Keith and Karen moved from London.

The Rainham branch will be open from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Saturday and from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm on Sundays.

From ingredient prices to electricity rates, expenses for virtually every bakery have risen dramatically this year. As a result, most of the UK’s thousands of independent bakeries may have to go into debt to survive the winter without shooting up their prices.

Tabitha works her magic
Tabitha works her magic

Many have seen their bills increase by 300% in 2020 – an increase from £1,500 to £3,500 for vital uses such as heating furnaces.

Various factors have been blamed for the rising global cost of flour. These include a supply chain disruption caused by the Covid pandemic, transport and labor costs, while the war in Ukraine has caused a rise in global wheat prices.

Tabitha Booth quit her job as a teacher to start her own sourdough bakery last July.

The 33-year-old has found the last year “challenging” but has still managed to almost double her number of clients.

She said: “I haven’t been out as fast as I would have liked. I would have hoped I could hire another baker, a cleaner and a delivery man and even a shop.”

Dad John, brother Guy, mom Riju, Tabitha and partner Shaun Kandathil
Dad John, brother Guy, mom Riju, Tabitha and partner Shaun Kandathil

“All of that has been put on hold, but I’m optimistic for next year.”

Tabitha started her Crackle Bread Bakery company on the Medway City Estate with the help of her close-knit family and boyfriend.

She said: “My family still pitches in. They are very supportive.”

His entrepreneurial chops are evident, using spent grain to make the trendy bespoke bread that took off during the lockdown.

The former business studies university student puts her degree into practice to stay on top of paperwork and bills.

Tabitha has had no formal training and mastered her cooking experience in the kitchen of the family home in Higham from a very young age.

She is now closed on Mondays and Tuesdays to keep up with her paperwork and Wednesday through Sunday she bakes and delivers all over Medway.

Restaurants Tabitha offers include The Pump Room in Chatham Maritime and The Cheese Room Botanicals on Rochester High Street.

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