“My advice to any other business in a similar situation would be to streamline your processes and simplify how your business is run, also looking at ways of innovation to help your business grow in different sectors especially online.” – Samuel Mensah, CEO of the London-based, Uncle John’s Bakery.
Uncle John’s Bakery is a family-run business, established 25 years ago by Uncle John himself, John Mensah, with his wife Emelia Mensah. Longing for the sweet aromas of fresh Ghanaian bread, after having arrived in the UK in 1982, Uncle John and his family started baking it themselves.
The face of the business today is Samuel Mensah, the son of John Mensah and a young inspirational entrepreneur with ambitions for the family business and whose personal motivation is to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs from the local community.
(Samuel Mensah, CEO, Uncle John’s Bakery)
“The vision is to grow the business and expand via a franchise or pseudo-franchise model across the UK, as well as within European countries.”
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced various challenges for many businesses, including Uncle John’s Bakery. The London Borough of Haringey referred Uncle John’s business to the London Growth Hub Business Adviser Programme, to help manage and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and in order to seek assistance in shoring up the business’s growth plans. Samuel sought advice on navigating the post-COVID-19 business landscape, especially with identifying not only the threats to the business, but also the opportunities.
“Haringey Council is committed to supporting all local businesses in realising their potential and supporting them when they need assistance. One such business who displayed considerable growth potential was Uncle John’s Bakery. The Council referred Samuel to the London Growth Hub for tailored 1-2-1 advice on IP protection, as well as being able to develop his marketing strategy into a more ambitious approach that better reflected the growth potential for the organisation. Uncle John’s Bakery now has a clear path to realising its considerable growth potential for the near future.”
– Graham Philpot, Principal Town Centre Officer, London Borough of Haringey
London Growth Hub Support
Samuel registered with the programme at the end of March 2020 and since then has been working closely with one of the advisers to discuss the key objectives of the business for the next year, identify barriers to growth and preparing an action plan to tackle such barriers.
The adviser took a holistic approach across functional perspectives to shore up the foundations and implement growth plans. An in-depth analysis of the business was carried out in relation to marketing, financial management, operations, logistics, staffing and more. With an action agreed to address immediate concerns, Uncle John’s Bakery is now positioned to continue on its long term vision to grow the business internationally.
“The benefits of the support received has enabled me to have open and extensive conversations about the growth and development of the business in different areas by looking at investment options and solidifying the brand” – Samuel Mensah, CEO Uncle John’s Bakery
The business has benefited greatly from the London Growth Hub Adviser Programme after receiving key insights and perspective on growth plans.
Uncle John’s Bakery recently struck a SMB (small-to-medium business) campaign deal with Google, to improve its online advertising to reach new customers during lockdown. The partnership with Google involved images and quotes from the founder of the business that would feature in various publications such as Evening Standard, New Scientist Magazine, The Times, Guardian and Leading Britain’s Conservation (LBC).
Additionally, business adviser, Patricia Ashford connected Samuel to a local radio station in Haringey and they are planning an interview to take forward his plan to mentor other businesses in the community.
Uncle John’s success has not gone unnoticed, the business has also been identified as a potential candidate for the London Growth Hub’s Accelerator programme because it has the ambition and potential to grow.
The support available from the London Growth Hub is ongoing. The adviser will continue to work with Uncle John’s Bakery, providing clarity and guidance to the business to find opportunities to increase sales regardless of the lockdown, and to improve financial and operational procedures before scaling up and expanding to new regions.