The story behind Hamilton!
Hamilton is a location 10 years in the making! We had always wanted to open a location in The Hammer but for one reason or another, it was constantly put on the back burner! Here is the story behind it!
Time to grow!
In the early 2010's we began a joint venture on Burloak Drive in Burlington. We had been pondering opening a location in Hamilton, but at the time we were still very much focused on our growing bakery wholesale business, the joint venture was a middle ground in both expanding our brand on a retail level as well as supplying our baked goods from helping our wholesale grow. The venture was made up of three companies, us, British Pride Bakery, Crawfords Scottish Butchers (who we acquired in 2020)and BGW. All specializing in Bakery, Butchery and Imported Groceries respectively. While this venture stalled the opening of a shop in Hamilton, Burlington got it's first taste of British Pride baked goods!
Unfortunately the venture ultimately came to an end as we were asked to move 100% of our bakery production to Burloak Drive which was simply not possible due to the lack of space especially given we were already coming close to outgrowing our larger unit in Cambridge. The store on Burloak Drive continued trading and we continued supplying our baked goods, just no longer with us as a partner.
Time to open in Hamilton... well, we thought!
The business on Burloak Drive was sold in late 2014 and the new owners quickly decided to move on from British Pride baked goods, which of course was an impact on our growing bakery wholesale business. We immediately had a wave of customers asking where else they could source our products locally. Instead of opening our own retail location which at the time would have been a huge risk as we were still in the toughest years of opening a business, we again focussed our efforts on the continuing growth of our bakery wholesale.
A couple of years had passed and we still wanted to open in Hamilton, but knew our product was already very popular in Burlington, whereas Hamilton was still a bit of an unknown. Our wholesale trade in Burlington was minimal and we knew the potential that existed given we had previously provided huge volumes of baked goods to Burlington in the past. We were getting messages almost daily about needing our product back in the area so we tried again to see if we could get a wholesale account to commit to our product. Our efforts saw no results so that's when we decided to put a pause (again) on Hamilton and open a store in Burlington! There would be delays but we would eventually open up in Burlington and as you might know, it has helped us grow from a small bakery in Cambridge, Ontario to Canada's largest British grocery chain with over 30,000 square feet or production, warehouse and retail space!
We absolutely adore the Burlington community for the way it has embraced us since 2018. We have won over 30 awards at the Burlington location alone, 24 of which are Diamond! We have been able to give back through food banks and donations to homeless charities. We have sponsored events and sports clubs and we will continue to give back as it was Burlington that helped redirect the business to becoming what it is today.
2020. Let's finally open in Hamilton!.. not again!?
An opportunity arose in 2020 that we simply could not pass up which was to acquire our butcher Crawford's (remember the butcher in our venture on Burloak Drive, that one!).
Crawford's was opened in 1977 by a Scottish Expat, Stewart Crawford and along with his son Robert Crawford they built a very reputable business producing the highest quality, most authentic Scottish Butchery items in Ontario and beyond.
Robert had been running the butchery since 1985 and was British Pride Bakery's main butchery supplier since our opening in 2010. We knew his product very well and our customers love it, Robert also knows our product and dedication to quality.
It is the professional working relationship and mutual respect that gave Robert the confidence that we were the right business to carry on his and his fathers legacy. Which is exactly what we have done!
Our Niagara Falls store opened in 2020, in and around the time the world nose dived into a pandemic! It wasn't the best time to open a retail store due to the then unknown Coronavirus but to now control our own butchery items was an incredible position to be in.
We had three increasingly popular locations and guess what..
Hamilton was delayed again in late 2020 as we decided that we needed to start importing our own groceries. Essentially, we had got to the point where our grocery suppliers could not keep up with our orders for the three existing locations so adding more would cause empty shelves to start appearing and if you know British Pride Bakery, that just isn't our style!
Most British stores buy from two main importers, who also supply the big box stores (another thing you know we'll never do! #SupportLocalBusiness!) The problem here is that individual, small businesses have less purchasing power, so pay higher prices for their product and the big box stores have priority due to the volumes that they take from the importers. It never sat well with us and constantly being offered low dated or expired cases of chocolate to do special blowout sales was our final straw so alas, British Pride Imports was formed! British Pride Bakery was now the only British store in Ontario (and still is) that produces and imports 100% of the product on the shelves and in the counters. You will also find over 10 other locations across Canada that solely carry our bakery, butchery and imported grocery as well as over 60 mixed wholesale customers! We were finally in a position where we could decide where and when we open our next location!
Guess what... It happened!
Hamilton is now open! The Hamilton community, the local media and everyone connected to us via social media were absolutely incredible! We were on the news, in the paper, featured in Magazines, it was an amazing feeling to feel the genuine excitement of our new location opening!
The opening month has shattered previous openings and we have been blown away by the growth of our social media channels, email subscribers and the sheer number of mentions across all socials!
We are so happy to finally be serving the Hamilton area, both shortening the trip for our existing customers of our Burlington, Niagara Falls and Cambridge locations as well being more accessible to more of you in the Hammer! We always look to improve where possible, we'll continue to increase our selection while ensuring the quality of what we produce only gets better!
This location has been a decade in the making and we're so glad that we were able to perfect our trade before making our debut in this great city!
It's worth noting that over the years, we had two opportunities to acquire existing British/Scottish stores in Hamilton, however we are very picky on location! One was simply too run down in an area with poor parking, both issues alone were dealbreakers for us! The other location we were actually interested in as we had already supplied our baked goods and had an existing relationship with the retiring owner, but a deal was already in place for the sale to another company, that location is now permanently closed. We are very meticulous with where we open our locations and it usually takes 10-12 months to settle on a location once deciding to open in any given city, this is particularly true with Hamilton and we couldn't be happier with 1575 Upper Ottawa Street!
Now that Hamilton is finally open..
We're ready to really grow the number of British Pride Bakery locations. We will be announcing news on our next Ontario location(s) in coming weeks, our online shop (bpshop.ca) as well as giving you more information on our venture into Eastern Canada, starting in Halifax, N.S!
We have always been incredibly proud of what we do and we have immense trust in ourselves, our staff and most of all commitment to our values. We are here to provide an immersive experience of the UK without the airfare, our award winning bakery, butchery and grocery range is now Canada's finest and we will continue to push ourselves to ensure our standards only improve.
When one door closes, another one opens, it's a good thing we didn't win any wholesale accounts in Burlington, ay!
Thank you for reading!