Tradition always sells in NI bakeries

Ann’s pantry was established in 1967 by Sean and Ann Agnew. Later, Helen and her brother took over and continued the reputation of high quality products, great taste and excellent service. With over 50 years in the baking industry, Ann’s pantry in Larne has seen trends come and go over the years. However, store owner Helen Porter says tradition has never failed to sell.

“Over the years we’ve been in this industry we’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs – from The Troubles, to the upset of supermarkets in the 1990s, and then the recession in the noughties. But we’ve battled through every season, and we’re here to last”.

All baked goods are made fresh on site, in their very own baking factory above the store.

“Our bakery is first and foremost all about quality, and quality only. The recipes we use are all family owned from my grandmothers, and we’ve always stayed true to these recipes.”

Nevertheless, Helen says that coming up with innovative products is also key. She explains like any successful business, keeping up to date with what the consumer is looking for is very important to them. “As well as our traditional products, we also bring in a bit of innovation. We make bread with traditional flour as well as spelt flour to offer new healthier loaves – which is what people want today”.

“Our black pudding with soda bread is also our own creation and unique to us. It’s always been really popular and has won several awards.”

“We have seen sale trends come and go, but the bottom line is people in Northern Ireland are very much about their traditions. You notice that especially over the Christmas period. Everyone comes home for the holidays and the first thing they do is buy a wheaten, a soda, potato bread or a scone and a cream cookie. Yes, innovation is very important to us, but tradition always sells.”

“Our best sellers throughout 2018 have been oven wheaten, soda bread, sausage rolls, and our white baps. They’re our bread and butter.”

The bakery in Larne has experienced much success over the years, with a constant buzz of customers in and out of the doors. Part of their success, Helen acknowledges, can be attributed to the 39 Great Taste Awards bestowed on their products.

“We’re a multi award winning bakery. In 2016 we were crowned Bakery of the Year at the BBC Good Food Show. It was great to receive something that really backed the reputation we have in the area and recognised us for our quality and effort to providing the best tasting products we can make.”

“2019 looks bright. We don’t go down the route of trying to be a big fancy baker, everything is traditional and simple. But we’re all about quality and taste and it works well for us. Our hope is to maintain our position here and continue providing high quality products.”

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