Community bakery first for Dunbar

media captionThe new bakery is being seen as an important step in regenerating Dunbar town centre

A new community-owned bakery in East Lothian is being hailed as a prototype for other Scottish towns looking to revive their high streets.

The Bakery in Dunbar is opening after 300 people raised almost £40,000 through the sale of community shares.

A campaign to set up a bakery was launched after the town's long-standing Smith's family bakery closed in 2008 when the owner retired.

The bakery will sell freshly-baked breads, pastries and cakes.

Its staff will include three professional bakers and a front-of-house team.

Plans to set up a new bakery were driven by local voluntary and community groups, who saw the idea as an important step towards regenerating the town centre.

The not-for-profit business was founded as an industrial and provident society in June 2009, and later secured funding of £53,000 through the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) and a further £10,000 from the National Lottery.

The community co-operative, known as Dunbar Community Bakery, also secured finance from the Co-operative Loan Fund to set up shop at a former high street newsagent's and pay for new, professional baking equipment.

'First for Scotland'

Dunbar Community Bakery treasurer Allen Simpson said: "In the main, people realised that it was about regeneration of the high street. Without a vibrant centre, a town can die."

The business is being overseen and run by a management committee which includes local entrepreneurs and experts in finance, marketing, communications and community development.

They expect the bakery to be trading profitably within three years, after which shareholders will be offered an opportunity to withdraw capital.

Shareholders in the enterprise will not receive any dividend payment but will be entitled to a 10% discount on shop purchases.

Jane Wood, chief executive of Scottish Business in the Community and chairwoman of the Dunbar Community Bakery's management committee, said: "This is a first for Scotland.

"Our market research shows clearly that there is still strong demand in Dunbar and the surrounding area for tasty wholesome bread that has been made and baked on the premises and which is available locally.

"Community-based enterprises can be an important driver of growth in today's difficult economic climate. We hope the success of this enterprise will be an inspiration for other communities to launch similar initiatives."

The bakery plans to provide training and employment opportunities for local people, along with developing apprenticeships and support to local schools to share baking skills.

Any profits from the business will be reinvested back into the community.

Ian Taylor, from the Co-operative Loan Fund, said: "Dunbar Community Bakery is the story of a community that has stuck at a plan through thick and thin.

"I am confident the bakery will be a success - it is run by professionals, located in a good spot and will no doubt bake delicious food."

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