Two former Rugby League players who founded one of Manchester’s most popular independent coffee shops have raised £250,000 from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, to expand their bakery business.
Mark Flanagan and Jon Wilkin opened Pot Kettle Black in Barton Arcade in 2014 while they were both playing for St Helens, and now also have stores at Angel Gardens and Manchester Airport. After gaining a reputation for their artisan breads and pastries, they received requests to supply local restaurants and soon exceeded the capacity of their Barton Arcade kitchen.
In 2019 they established the bakery arm as a separate business, Half Dozen Other, operating from a small unit in Salford. Following the continued growth of the business, they have now leased a much larger, 5,000 sq ft premises in Red Bank, near Victoria with room for further expansion. The funding will enable them to fit out the unit and provide additional capital for growth.
Half Dozen Other supplies San Carlo, Tast and numerous other cafes and restaurants in Manchester. The company prides itself on making classic bakes with a modern take. Best sellers range from the 1.3kg family-size sourdough loaf to cinnamon buns and kouign-amann, a pastry from North West France made up of croissant dough, sugar and vanilla salt.
The bakery employs 10 staff, with an additional 45 working in the cafes, and expects to create around 20 jobs in the next two years.
Mark Flanagan says: “People are now better travelled, more sophisticated in their tastes and want to enjoy a wider range of foods. Shows like The Great British Bake Off have also encouraged greater interest in bakery products. The new premises will give us room to grow and pursue our ambition to become the leading artisan bread and pastry wholesaler in the North.”
Andy Clough of Mercia added: “Half Dozen Other is the second successful venture from Mark and Jon. The business has achieved year on year growth since its inception, even through the lockdown periods, and continues to see strong demand.
“The funding will allow them to scale up the wholesale business and reach customers across a wider area, while also providing an outlet to sell to consumers direct. The indications are that the business could double or treble in size within the next two years.”
Charlotte Ashton of Implicit provided fundraising advice to the business.
NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance provides loans in the NPIF region with a focus on Yorkshire and the Humber. The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.