Showstoppers: How The Great British Bake Off Is Boosting British Business

07 October 2015 -


As Tamal, Nadiya and Ian fight it out to be crowned winner of The Great British Bake-Off in tonight’s final, Insights takes a look at how the hit show has started a baking business revolution

Jermaine Haughton

More than ten million people will have their eyes glued to their TV sets as finalists whisk egg whites, roll dough and bake cakes on the season finale of The Great British Bake Off tonight. Inspiring people of all ages to show their own wizardry with a rolling pin and a palette knife, the TV show has turned into more than just a hit for the BBC and has given rise to a Great British baking business boom.

Widely-expected to the be the most watched UK programme of 2015, the Great British Bake Off has grown a fanatical viewership with up to 12.3 million avid watchers tuning in for witty hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, superstar judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, and a unique view into Britain’s fetes, scones and village greens.

Baking Retail Boom

But the baking sensation has done more than just make viewers hungry as they watch the contestants’ masterpieces take shape. The rollercoaster ride of emotions throughout the hour-long show has left many with an insatiable desire to bake, and retailers have been major beneficiaries.

E-commerce site reports the sales of ovens, hobs, fridge-freezers, and stand mixers used by The Great British Bake Off contestants on the show have soared during this season. Online retailer also saw a 141% increase in bakeware sales during the 2014 series, with sales of kitchen appliances up by 87% and chopping boards by 83%. Sales of the Gorenje RF60309O retro fridge-freezer used by contestants on the show have more than doubled, the retailer said, while M&S and John Lewis have also both reported an increase in the sales of baking ingredients and equipment since Bake Off became popular.

Independent retailer Richard Williams, owner of Williams Supermarket in Somerton, Somerset, has had to add new home-baking lines to his stock to meet rising demand.

“Home-baking is already popular here and it does tend to rise in the weeks during and after The Great British Bake Off,” he said. “The opening episodes have already attracted huge audiences and as a community retailer you have to be in tune with local people’s interests and respond to them.”

But this baking craze cooking up a storm in British kitchens is more than just a fad. According to latest Mintel data, UK sales of home-baking ingredients and equipment have been growing steadily over recent years and the value of the market is expected to edge up by 7% to £1.9bn by 2019.

Rise of the Cake-trepreneur

Since The Great British Bake Off first appeared on UK screens five years ago, there has been a 51% increase in the number of baking businesses operating in the UK, and the total number now stands at 4,190, according to figures from Companies House and O2 Data.

In Newport, Wales, the figures show that 85% of the city’s bakeries were set-up after Bake Off started. Similarly, Simple Business Insurance, which provides insurance for start-up companies, says it has experienced 325% more quote requests from cake entrepreneurs than it did before 2010.

Elsa Santana, 34, is one of those to venture into the cake-making business, establishing Let it be Cake in August 2011. The former IT worker said: “Recent TV shows like Cake Boss and The Great British Bake Off definitely acted as an inspiration and catalyst for my business plan – making me realise that there was a real appetite out there for bespoke cakes like mine. Cakes have become an artwork and more people are looking for the tastes and smell of homemade but with a perfect artistic finish, especially for special occasions, which really takes a professional touch to master.

“Cake making offers an appealing business model especially to mums like me as it allows you to work from home in a very creative industry and, most importantly, to control the hours you work. It’s very rewarding seeing the appreciation on your client’s face and it makes long hours of fiddly cake decoration worthwhile! Cake makers tend to have a very local customer base so even though there is lots of competition out there, you can carve a niche in your local area.”

So as Tamal, Nadiya and Ian take to the tent to try and avoid the dreaded soggy bottom and wow the judges in tonight’s final of The Great British Bake Off, they may just be encouraging a few more budding bakers to take the plunge and start out on the path to running their own business.

Have you started up your own business and are looking for the resources needed to help you grow? Then read about the CMI’s Growing Your Small Business campaign

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