Britain’s biggest high street baker Greggs has angered local producers by refusing to budge on its corporate policy of not selling Eccles cakes – even at its Eccles branch during Eccles Cake Week.
The celebration of the pastry named after a Greater Manchester town, which ends on Sunday, coincides neatly with the reopening of the branch following refurbishment, and the Manchester Evening News reported that many locals expected the bakery giant to join in the festivities.
But Greggs has refused to make an exception to its stance on the sweet treats, which it stopped stocking in 2004 because it claimed other products proved much more popular.
Ian Edmonds, the production manager at Real Lancashire Eccles Cakes, told the MEN he thought the decision was “disgraceful”, and said: “As far as we’re concerned our Eccles cakes sell really well. In fact, they’re one of the top selling cakes in supermarkets. People like them all over the country.”
A spokesman for Greggs told the paper: “We sell products for which strong demand exists and Greggs made the commercial decision to stop selling Eccles cakes in its north west stores around a decade ago, after customer demand for the product in the region declined significantly.”
Eccles cakes are made up of a mix of dried fruit, sugar and butter, and were first sold by baker James Birch more than 200 years ago – with a blue plaque marking the spot today.
They are now exported all over the world, and ten years ago were sold at 1,200 branches of Greggs across the UK.
Now with more than 1,600 stores nationwide, the bakers’ chain says it stands by its decision to back “other products, such as muffins and chocolate slices”.
Eccles Cake Week comes within the broader remit of National Cake Week, celebrated this year from 7 – 13 October.