A family bakery company operating 12 retail outlets in the south of England has been forced to turn to catering to stay in business.
John and Gareth Bentley, who founded the Rising Dough chain 17 years ago, are franchising a café concept they started last year in Worthing.
The first franchised outlet opened this week in Eastbourne, and a total of 30 are planned over the next five years.
John Bentley told Caterer that he and his brother had launched the Bentleys Bakery Café in response to the erosion of their traditional market by the supermarket chains. Because of this, no further expansion of the 12-strong Rising Dough chain is planned.
"Sales of bread made up about half our turnover 10 years ago. Now they account for just 12%," explained Mr Bentley.
The company-owned Bentleys Bakery Café in Worthing seats 70 people indoors plus a further 50 people outdoors in the summer, and turnover has reached £7,500 a week, excluding VAT.
Mr Bentley said he was confident the chain's expansion plans were feasible. Further sites and potential franchisees had already been identified, he added.
The first franchisees are Barry and Mari Selby, who for the past 20 years have run a restaurant in Spain.
The cafés serve a variety of jacket potatoes and pizza and pasta dishes, in addition to filled baguettes, sandwiches, cakes, teas and fresh cappuccino coffees.