A family bakery that has been trading on for 168 years has issued a poignant 'use us or lose us' plea to customers.
Turneys bakery has shops in Newport Pagnell and on the Lakes Estate local centre, but both have experienced the worst year ever financially.
The Newport Pagnell shop, which is on the High Street, has been the hardest hit.
They blame the fact that their bread and cakes, which are freshly baked by hand with locally-sourced high quality ingredients, simply cannot be sold as cheaply as mass-produced supermarket products.
“Shopping habits have changed and times are tough financially for many people. They are trying to save money by shopping at stores such as Aldi and Lidl. But we can't compete with their prices,” said master baker Giles Deering, who runs the business with his wife Gemma and his dad Paul.
Paul, also a master baker, gets up at 2am each day to start the mammoth baking session. Giles takes over during the day and works until 10pm or 11pm each night.
“We are working for 22 hours a day. Our bread and cakes and are excellent. It's hard to think of anything else we can do,” said Giles.
After a family discussion, he put a post on the Newport Pagnell bakery's Facebook page this week telling customers: “Your help is needed to save your local bakery. It's so sad to say but it's come to that time... Use us or lose us.”
People immediately replied with positive comments, including; “Oh no! We love your bread and excellent customer service. Please keep going.”
Another customer said: “We love visiting you, this makes me so sad to read this.”
Others suggested Turneys produce gluten free goods. But Giles said this was harder than it sounded.
“We are aware old-fashioned bread is not as popular as it was and many people like gluten free products. We would love to produce these, hover we would need new premises. Due to flour being air-borne it's still in the air when we bake and this could cross-contaminate or make someone really poorly, which we would not like to happen,” he said.
For years Turneys did a roaring trade in freshly-filled sandwiches and rolls at lunchtimes. But these are now showing a downtrend due to the fact that so many people are trying to save cash by packing their own lunches at home, said Giles.
He has even considering turning back time and reinstating home deliveries of bread, probably using a bicycle to get around. But at the moment there would not be enough orders to justify that, he says.
“We love being in Newport Pagnell and we are always looking for new ideas. But if business does not pick up we will have no choice but to close. That is the sad fact.”
Turneys bakery business was launched in 1851 in Leighton Buzzard.