A business owner was slammed as ‘narrow minded’ and ‘rude’ last night after he ‘self-sabotaged’ his own bakery by refusing to take expert advice on Channel 4’s The Money Maker.
Alex Jacob, from Sussex, appeared on the programme last night seeking help from investor Eric Collins in order to to save his bakery The Sussex Kitchen, which was on the verge of collapse amid the
Eric’s rescue plan included exclusive focus on their home delivery service and an intensive digital marketing campaign with an aim of reaching profits of £100,000 per month within a year.
However Alex was critical of the suggestions and struggled to take the advice, with many viewers saying he was ‘smug’, ‘spoilt’ and ‘lazy’ during the show.
Alex Jacob, from Sussex, was slammed as ‘narrow minded’ and ‘rude’ last night after he ‘self-sabotaged’ his own bakery by refusing to take expert advice on Channel 4’s The Money Maker
At the start of the programme, Alex explained the award winning artisan bakery made its money selling craft breads and cakes wholesale to cafes, hotels and restaurants.
However the coronavirus pandemic affected the business by ‘removing 90 per cent of his clients’ and Alex was forced to adapt by launching an online shop.
He was just about able to hold the company and 25 staff together during the first lockdown but the bakery was on the brink as further lockdowns were announced.
Alex explained: ‘If we didn’t get investment, we could be bankrupt within a month.’
Eric’s rescue plan included exclusive focus on their home delivery service and an intensive digital marketing campaign with an aim of reaching profits of £100,000 per month within a year (pictured, Eric’s new packaging for products)
Alex gave Eric a tour of the bakery, and deemed the online shop a ‘necessary evil’ during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However Eric said it could be the key to getting his business back on track, and offered him £150,000 for a 40 per cent of the company.
The baker turned down the offer, saying: ‘For that amount of money, I wouldn’t give up that size stake in a company I’ve spent 10 years building up.’
Instead, they decided on a £75,000 convertible loan, which Alex could use as working capital but had the ability to convert into a stake in the company later.
However Alex refused to take the advice and get on board with his suggestions, with many viewers saying he was ‘smug’, ‘spoilt’ and ‘lazy’ during the show
Alex explained: ‘Loan conversion is more appeal to me, because it allows me to get to know him before I invite him to be part of the company.’
Eric told him he wanted to shift from wholesale to the online business, moving from £15,000 turnover a month to £100,000 a month.
To help drive the online business, he was keen to involve some of the other staff, including a pastry chef Ellie.
Meanwhile Eric suggested Alex drastically needed to improve his marketing, explaining: ‘To get to £100,000 per month turnover, he is going to have to be a brand that consumers know and love and look forward to.
Eric told Alex he wanted to shift from wholesale to the online business, moving from £15,000 turnover a month to £100,000 a month (pictured, the Sussex Bakery site)
‘You can have the best bread in the world but if you can’t excite people, its never going to be enough.’
Alex and Ellie joined Eric to visit another bakery in London to see how they had managed to shift from wholesale to online during the pandemic with a successful social media strategy.
Ellie was impressed by their hard work, telling her boss: ‘We really what we need, this is the authenticity for people to see. This is us, The Sussex Kitchen. We could do this as well.’
But Alex said he was unconvinced, explaining: ‘I don’t think it’s necessarily that transferable.
To help drive the online business, Eric was keen to involve some of the other staff, including a pastry chef Ellie (pictured)
‘It strikes me as being urban-centric. If I see anyone high amount of followers on Instagram, it’s urban, they have retail space that people know, and they can walk around. These are things I’d be fighting against.’
By December 2020, Ellie and the staff began pitching products that could be picked up by the business to help the online shop.
But Alex immediately dismissed their efforts, telling his staff: ‘I think it’s important that we get what we have and make sure we do that properly before we start diversifying into other areas, even if it is a good laugh.’
Ellie was left gutted, saying: ‘It’s just frustrating that he asked us all to do the product of the month and he was too busy to look at them. They ended up in the bin.’
But Alex was unconvinced by suggestions to enhance his social media strategy and marketing, and said he thought it ‘wouldn’t translate’ to his own bakery
She said it didn’t feel as though Alex wanted to grow the business, and added she felt tempted to move on and find ‘someone who would appreciate our work.’
By the time the third lockdown came, Eric began questioning why Alex hadn’t put into place his suggestions for a new marketing strategy.
Instead, Alex decided to invest by signing a 10 year lease on a new building which he said was for ‘shipping’.
Alex also confessed they hadn’t changed the packaging on their online shop products, before he revealed Ellie had also decided to leave the company.
Having worked together for several months, Eric was aghast by how little of his plan Alex had put into place
Eric was aghast, suggesting she had been ‘central’ in his plan to personalise and market the brand.
As a last resort, Eric introduced Alex to a digital marketing company who could plan a social media strategy for him.
Alex admitted he had no knowledge of the digital world and didn’t use social media, saying: ‘It feels like a lot of effort to get people to buy bread.’
As part of the marketing scheme, Eric organised for new packaging to ship online orders out in.
Alex later confessed they hadn’t changed the packaging on their online shop products, before he revealed Ellie had also decided to leave the company
By the end of a two week long campaign, Alex said he ‘wasn’t going to hold his breath’ about the success.
Presenting the results, the team said they had found new customers on the site had increased by 47 per cent, while sales overall had increased by over 20 per cent.
They told him that if he continued with the marketing campaign, the forecast for the brand would be £500,000 turnover by the end of the year.
However when he was asked what his thoughts were, he said: ‘I don’t really understand any of it.’
Several days later, online orders were booming and Alex and Eric met to discuss the £75,000 loan.
Viewers were left stunned by Alex’s attitude throughout the programme and called him ‘smug’ and ‘narrow minded’
Alex said he had given the online shop more thought and decided he was ‘converted’ to giving it a ‘good push’.
Eric decided to give Alex back 100 per cent control of his business, with the baker repaying the £75,000 loan.
But viewers were unconvinced Alex could be success and questioned his attitude during the programme.
One person wrote: ‘So Alex has kind of bottled it. He just doesn’t care, typical self centred smug rich kid.’
Another wrote: ‘I would have strangled Alex the Baker with his stupid grin. Get a move on the man is trying to help you.’
A third commented: ‘What a great show. Alex unfortunately was a dinosaur reluctant to change. What a shame.’
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