Frankonia the Bread House

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Frankonia the Bread House's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Frankonia the Bread House is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Founder and Managing Director
Birgit Gunz
Sourdoughs ready for the
Established in 1998, Frankonia the Bread House aims to provide
continental breads to the UK market. Initially operating out
of a small bakery in Wimbledon Village, they have since
expanded into the wholesale market and now distribute across
the country to clients including the House of Lords. They source
the majority of their ingredients from the UK, supplemented
by a few specialist ingredients from Europe. Founder and
Managing Director Birgit Gunz left a job in the City to start the
business and tells
TheParliamentary Review
about its expansion.
I am originally from Germany; when I moved to the UK in 1986, I found a very
different type of bread from that to which I was accustomed. In the intervening
years, food has developed greatly in the UK, incorporating influences and products
from around the world. Prior to establishing the company, I had worked in the City
but had always wished to open my own bakery, introducing continental breads
to the UK market. In 1998, I realised my dream and opened my own bakery in
Wimbledon Village. Although this was primarily involved in retail, my plan was
to launch into the wholesale market. We began wholesaling from the shop in
our second year, and this part of the business saw rapid expansion, with demand
consistently rising.
Soon, the small bakery became inadequate to satisfy demand, and we subsequently
moved to bigger premises, where we are still based today. We moved four years
after setting up and soon realised that we could no longer focus on both the retail
and wholesale parts of the business. We sold the shop and started to focus solely
on our wholesale arm, a focus we retain to this day. We now supply a variety of
»Founder and Managing
Director: Birgit Gunz
»Established in 1998
»Based in Surbiton
»Services: Wholesale bakery
»No. of employees: 35
Frankonia the Bread
Highlighting best practice
clients at the top tier of the catering
world: numerous five-star hotels,
gentlemen’s clubs in London, catering
companies and the House of Lords.
London and the home counties are
serviced with daily deliveries by our
own fleet of vans, while deliveries
further afield are dealt with efficiently
by a third-party network. This allows
us to supply clients across the UK.
Per day, we sell between 14,000 and
20,000 pieces.
Our range spans artisan breads,
sourdough, brioche, buns of all sorts
and sizes, breakfast pastries, sandwich
bread and breads for afternoon tea.
We supply these to chefs, catering
companies and restaurants. In the last
five years, we have seen enormous
growth in the afternoon tea market
and now supply various different
flavours, even differentiating breads
by colour. For instance, we bake
pink bread with beetroot or green
breads using spinach, helping to
give the chefs we supply increased
visual impact. Our profile has grown
through word of mouth, and, at the
outset, I visited customers personally
to attract new business. Today, we
have a sales department that takes
care of this. We have grown our
number of staff too: we had four staff
in our Wimbledon bakery, which has
now grown to 35.
A commitment to excellent
customer service
The central element of our best
practice is our total commitment to
our customers. This encapsulates
both an outstanding level of service
and consistent product quality. It
is quite easy to find instances of
bad customer service and having
to chase suppliers, something I find
unacceptable. My bakery very much
cares about its customers, and we
always work hard to go beyond
expectations. This involves being
proactive and supporting our clients as
much as possible. Our products are all
handmade and crafted by highly skilled
bakers, with several quality checks in
place throughout the process, which
helps in ensuring a great product at
the end. This also allows us a great
degree of flexibility to respond to
customer needs, tailoring a product
to the exact specification of the client.
Our bakery operates 24 hours a day,
every day of the year.
Partly because of this excellent level of
customer service, plus the quality of
our product, our client retention rate is
extremely high: when clients come to
us, they stay. We tend to think of our
customers as the jewels in our crown,
and this translates into long-term
We source our ingredients from both
domestic and international suppliers.
Our rye flour is imported from
Germany, we buy red-label flour from
France and we source the rest from the
UK. We aim to source the majority of
our ingredients from the UK market,
supplementing this with the best
specialist ingredients from Europe.
We have always had a steady rate of
growth year on year, even when the
economy has gone through tough
times. This is a testament to us doing
a good job, keeping our clients happy
and attracting new business.
Slow fermentation black
olive and rosemary loaf
The central
element of
our best
practice is our
to our
The struggle to find the right
The major challenge we face is
sourcing staff: 95 per cent of the issues
we face come from staffing problems.
This covers both general recruitment
and finding the right people. Finding
likeminded employees is never easy,
and, for our production, we require
a specific set of skills. This has never
been easy but has got increasingly
hard over the last two years. In my
production team, I have one English
baker and the rest are from Germany,
France, Italy and Eastern Europe.
Filling positions that come under the
classification of unskilled labour is
equally hard. Also, I have observed a
shift in attitudes, especially among the
younger generation, which concerns
me greatly. Today, employees ask
what their employers can do for them,
rather than what they can do for their
The craft baking process in this
country was largely decimated by the
Chorleywood process in the 1950s, but
bread has had a renaissance in the last
few years. High street and specialist
bakers are appearing again, but there
is still a lack of young people training
as apprentice bakers.
The demand for high-quality bread
is very strong, and, as we move
forward, we are looking to become
a bit more aggressive with our
expansion strategy and grow our sales
by 40-50 per cent over the next two
years. This will span both nationwide
distribution and our local customers,
although we are primarily focusing
on nationwide expansion. We face a
lot less competition nationally than
we do locally, as places further afield
really struggle to find a bakery that can
fulfil the volume of speciality breads
that we can. We have established a
strong foundation for growth and look
forward to seeing further expansion.
employees ask
what their
employers can
do for them
rather than
what they can
do for their
Selection of dinner rolls

This article was sponsored by Frankonia the Bread House. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster