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Uncle John’s Bakery: Bakery  reopens its doors to the community 

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Uncle John’s Bakery, a Ghanaian bakery based in north London, has been able to reopen safely and safeguard jobs following the coronavirus lockdown.

Interior of Uncle John's Bakery, showing staff in protective clothes and protected counter spaceSamuel Mensah, Managing Director at Uncle John’s Bakery talks to us about how the business, which opened in 1995 and supplies Tesco and Morrison’s, has adapted to welcome back customers.

“We’ve been able to open safely following adaptations to the business to keep employees and customers safe.

Business was booming before the pandemic hit, but demand for cakes and bread dried up after the UK lockdown was announced.

We experienced a significant reduction in sales and knew it would be a while before we were back operating as usual. The support has been key in helping us navigate the disruption to our supply chain and retaining our brilliant team.

We’ve been able to keep Uncle John’s Bakery trading where possible during the lockdown, and focused on putting the business in a position to return to full-scale production as quickly as it is safe to do so.”

The safety measures introduced at Uncle John’s bakery include:

  • Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment in line with government guidelines
  • Adjusting hygiene and food safety procedures based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles - all touch points are cleaned down three times a day
  • Implementing additional hygiene procedures, including hand sanitisers and rubber gloves
  • Displaying signs and posters to help staff and customers follow social distancing
  • Reducing staff hours and introducing staggered work patterns
  • Encouraging staff to work back-to-back to avoid unnecessary contact
  • Installing a protective screen to protect staff and customers and providing face masks for staff should they feel the need to wear one
  • Placing floor markings on the shop floor to maintain social distancing and safe ways of working according to government guidance

Samuel added: “We achieved our Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) standard demonstrating that we are able to produce safe and legal food in 2018. Therefore, our knowledge of SALSA best practice was instrumental in helping us develop this plan as it enabled us to have an advanced understanding of what a high level of hygiene and health and safety looks like. We’re delighted to be back up and running in the heart of the community.”

Uncle John’s Bakery has also been running a limited online delivery service for customers and essential businesses that remained open in the local area thanks to a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan and a Small Business Grant, which helped the business’s cashflow position.

The government has published COVID-19 secure guidance to support businesses to reopen, and keep workers and customers safe so they feel confident to return. To find out about measures your business needs to implement to reopen safely, there is an online tool, which will direct you to guidelines specific to your type of workplace.

If you run a business and would like to know which of the coronavirus support schemes you are eligible for, you can use the business support finder tool. It takes just minutes to complete and will help you easily find support for your business.

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