GAIL’s Bakery at London Coffee Festival 2024: growth, loyalty, and the secret to success

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April 18, 2024

At the London Coffee Festival 2024, Marta Pogroszewska – Managing Director of GAIL’s Bakery – took to the stage for a candid chat with MCA Deputy Editor Shwetali Sapte. 

Their discussion focused on the GAIL’s growth journey, the brand’s focus on coffee, and the milestone GAIL’s Loyalty app that customers have been embracing. 

Pogroszewska also had some handy tips for operators when it comes to scaling a brand. 

Check out some of our favourite highlights from the conversation below: 

“GAIL’s is food first, now you’re focusing on the coffee side. Do the customers accept your coffee offer?”

“They do, they absolutely appreciate it.

Bakery is so versatile. If you can match two fantastic categories of products together and really stay true to your values, it definitely works. The customers challenge us to be better, especially around speed. We compete with high street coffee so we had to work out how to be a little bit faster, but also improve the quality.”

gails bakery mobile omnichannel loyalty
The GAIL's loyalty mobile app - built by Vita Mojo - featured in the discussion

Next, Pogroszewska discussed a milestone for the business in 2023: the launch of the GAIL's loyalty mobile app.

“Our stamp cards were paper, and we were one of the last to keep doing that in the coffee industry, because we thought it was cute, real and honest. 

So when we moved to an app, we kept the same mindset. We still give stamps to our customers, but now we can see data. 

We definitely now know a lot more about our loyal customers. 

I’m really grateful to see how many people are using it. It’s really simple, we haven’t overplayed on the tech side.

Nearly a third of our customers are using it, which is one of the highest engagements across the industry. We love that people are so passionate about the loyalty scheme.”

The GAIL's loyalty app: behind the scenes

Discover the power of mobile apps in our full guide:

  • Discover the four powerful benefits of a mobile app
  • Find out why apps are at the heart of omnichannel loyalty.
  • Get behind-the-scenes insights from GAIL’s Bakery on their app journey.

“What's the secret to keeping people coming back?”

“For all the operators in the audience, the secret is to find the best manager who can build the best team, absolutely understands the brand, and connects authentically to what we do. It’s just so important.

You cannot underestimate the importance of the managers and the teams. How important it is to have the best team with continuous passion to grow.

We have the ethos at GAIL’s, we’re not seeking perfection: as good as we can be today, and tomorrow when we know more we will be better.”

The discussion was titled "GAIL's growth: Opportunities and challenges ahead"

The next topic focused on how GAIL is managing to balance its significant growth while maintaining sustainability.

“We see it as an opportunity, not a challenge. 

Every single time we open another bakery, we can buy better equipment, more sustainable ingredients, and get to know the small, local producers.

It’s a little more difficult to scale the sustainable ingredients. We look for partners that are absolutely able to scale and are passionate about the bigger impact. 

We’re passionate about doing the right thing. We debate how far we can push the dial to make a better choice rather than an easier or cheaper one. We don’t start from the cost of ingredients; we start from, ‘Is it the best ingredient? Is it going to help good things go further? Are we going to help the cause?’ 

“Have you had to adapt the brand going outside of London?”

“When we were going to Manchester and we opened our first site there, we had a great debate about changing the pricing, model, and range. 

But we decided to go with GAIL’s as it is anywhere else. We kept to our truest and purest and it’s been a great success. Since then we’ve opened another four bakeries and are looking to open another two.

It shows that if you really stick to your values, stick to your core and stand for what you mean to do, it works, 

Everyone that tries to scale definitely has to have some ethos and mission they own, sticking to the mission is really important.

We’re looking now at Birmingham and opening later this year. I went to drive around, to understand the neighbourhoods. What are people looking for? Who are they? 

It’s a question of ‘are we going to add to this neighbourhood or not?’ We always want to make things better. It takes a lot of time to think about it, But the space is definitely there for GAIL’s.” 

Pogroszewska then discussed future models that GAIL is exploring while commending her teams for keeping the neighbourhood ethos alive.

“We’re opening three big station bakeries in London, which will be very very exciting and push us a little bit further. 

But GAIL’s will forever be a neighbourhood business, because of the connection we create and how we connect with everyone around us

Our teams are so amazing. We have an internal channel called GAIL’s Together and they’re always posting amazing things they do. It warms my heart every day when they tell the GAIL’s world the amazing things they’ve done to help their neighbourhoods. It’s not a strategy, the teams are just doing it because they enjoy being part of the community. That ethos part of it is so important to us.”

The discussion ended with Pogroszewska highlighting the benefits of healthy competition and the importance of loyal, early adopters.

“It will be 20 years since we opened the first shop in Hampstead next year. 

Every single competitor, every brand has since opened in Hampstead, and it’s beautiful to see. It brings so much richness to the community and brings more people to Hampstead, so more people can enjoy themselves. I think it’s fantastic, there’s enough for everyone to share. 

We’ll be so grateful to our Hampstead customers for sticking with us for 20 years. They’re our biggest champions and biggest challengers. Those first people that you know will tell you when something needs to change or move, because they love us so much. They will always give us the best feedback on what we do.”

We built the GAIL’s loyalty app in partnership with the iconic bakery, keeping the iconic brand alive at every customer touch point. 

Now, almost two thirds of GAIL’s customers use the app. 

Book a chat with one of our hospitality tech expert to find out more about how an app can benefit your business, and what it might look like for your customers…

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