A Glasgow bakery owner has told how, following his dream of opening a cafe, he was forced to close after just six months as the cost of living crisis tightens its grip on the city.
In a new series of flagship surveys, The Glasgow Times speaks to businesses and business leaders to find out how they are being affected by the crisis and what they need to do to deal with it.
Today, Calum Bryce, the owner of Wild Flours Bakery, pulled back the curtain on the growing pressures facing the hospitality industry with a stern warning that the worst could be yet to come.
After successfully running the gluten-free spot on the border of Southside and Giffnock for almost six years, Calum felt ready to open a sister site, Wild Flours East, amid the hustle and bustle of Duke Street.
He said: “I’ve always wanted to have a cafe as well as a bakery, but I like to play it safe and didn’t want to take any chances.
“I finally tried my luck after five years in business.
“When we opened in April, I had planned ahead and booked a few holidays for later in the year thinking the East would be booming by then.
“It’s gone badly enough.”
Despite a warm reception in the neighborhood that left the cafe with rave reviews, things quickly started to go downhill for the East team.
A deadly combination of staff shortages, rising costs and declining attendance soon saw Calum renting out his Mount Florida apartment to Airbnb guests to make ends meet and face a heartbreaking decision.
He said: “If we had gone on for another month at East, I wouldn’t have had the money to pay everyone.
“I was very lucky to have a last minute Airbnb reservation in my apartment extended for a week.
“At first I had hoped this would mean I would finally have money to save for myself, but every penny went to pay my staff.
“It was such a stressful time that, to be honest, when I made the decision to close it was the greatest relief and a total weight on my shoulders.”
The brutal challenges facing the hospitality industry in the current climate mean that stories like Calum’s are becoming more commonplace.
By comparing his years working at Wild Flours with a short-lived attempt to branch out, the 34-year-old is able to shed some light on just how dire the situation has become.
He said: “A combination of things led us to close but ultimately the biggest factor was rising costs.
“I’ve kept a spreadsheet of price changes since I started baking.
“Over the past few weeks, key ingredients for us like light brown sugar have increased by 43% or caster sugar by 25%.
“Even places that are always busy will have to start raising their prices because their profit margins will change.
“This is a difficult time for all industries, but especially for hospitality.”
While Calum is grateful to have kept Wild Flours at Giffnock, his experience with East has left him worried for months to come, a growing fear shared by Glasgow business owners.
He said: “I’m back to square one working at the bakery and putting all my energy into it.
“We are very lucky to have regular customers who have been very supportive of us, but if we start to shut up or raise our prices, we’re not going to survive here either.
“I don’t think we’ll know for sure how bad things are until the end of this year, but I predict there will be a lot more closures.
“I just hope people continue to support their favorite local businesses.”
For more information on wild flours, click on here.