Cake Box, with Bradford shops and production site,…

Cake Box, with Bradford shops and production site, sees profits fall – but bosses remain confident

AN EGG-free cake specialist Cake Box, which has shops and a production facility in Bradford, saw its profits fall four per cent as the national lockdown in March took its toll on the business.

The second national lockdown in England is also slowing growth, the company said, but a dividend was paid out and bosses said they are confident for the future.

Stores are now open – except in shopping centre kiosks – but the damage from earlier in the year saw pre-tax profits for the six months to September 30 fall to £1.66 million compared with £1.74 million during the same period a year ago.

Sales were also down 2 per cent to £8.59 million in the period but bosses are hopeful over new store openings and enjoyed an online boost by offering cakes via Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo. Cake Box has shops on Duckworth Lane, Leeds Road and a kiosk in The Broadway. There is also a shop in Keighley town centre.

Chief executive Sukh Chamdal said: “We have shown considerable resilience during an unprecedented half-year period and have emerged a stronger business for it.

“This is demonstrated by the strength of our trading momentum since reopening the business, with our franchisee like-for-like sales up by 12.1 per cent, including a 51 per cent increase in online franchisee sales, six new franchise stores opened and a record number of new store applications.

This gives us confidence that the momentum in our national rollout will return to pre-Covid levels.”

He also announced an increase in the interim dividend payment due on December 23 by 15 per cent to 1.85p a share.

A dividend of 3.2p a share was initially scrapped in April due to the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was reintroduced in October.

It means the biggest shareholder – Mr Chamdal, who owns 29.2 per cent – has paid out dividends to himself of £646,000. Since the second English lockdown, sales have slowed and are now rising at just 2 per cent but the boss is optimistic over new store openings and a new warehouse.

Five new franchise stores were opened during the period – in Staines, Barnsley, Tolworth, Cricklewood and Corby – with 20 due to open during the financial year.

A new Coventry warehouse and distribution centre is expected to open before the end of March – with sponge production capability – which will provide a back-up for the company’s other production facilities in Enfield and Bradford. Cake Box opened its doors in London back in 2008. According to its website, its mission was to provide fresh cream Celebration Cakes, made without using eggs, and an ‘on demand’ service.

Its website states: “Many of the founders’ family members follow a strict lacto-vegetarian diet and that is how they came up with the idea for the company.”