A sad day for Upminster as family bakery Kingcotts shuts up shop after 36 years
PUBLISHED: 17:00 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:59 30 January 2019
After 36 years, Kingcotts Bakery in Upminster will be shutting down its ovens and shifting out its last batches of sourdough on Friday, February 1.
The bakers in Station Road is famous for its jam doughnuts and the smell of its bread early in the morning, and Sue and Paul Kingcott will be hanging up their aprons and plan to sail away into retirement.
The couple met nearly 40 years ago when he was working in Rose’s Bakers, Corbets Tey Road. Sue’s mum worked in the store with Paul and one day Sue came in to see her mum. He offered her a lift home and the rest is history.
The couple said they were choking up just finding the words to explain they wouldn’t be open anymore, and thanked their “wonderfully loyal” customers for all the business over the years.
One of whom is Tom Harvey - the “doughnut man” who on his 94th birthday on Tuesday, January 22, went in to collect his daily sweet treat. He says it is the key to his long life.
Tom said he has been going to the shop since it opened, but has been going every day since his wife died eight years ago. All the staff already know his order - one jam doughnut and one apple pie (that is 2,920 of each over eight years).
He said: “I don’t know what I’m going to do once they’re gone. I come every day, and there’s no other doughnuts like them.”
A few weeks ago Tom missed a day and the staff messaged his daughter Sue to ask if he was OK. And one of the girls went out of her way to take him a doughnut on what would have been his wife’s birthday.
Speaking about customers like Tom, Paul told the Recorder: “We have loved being part of the community here for such a long time, and it has been hard having to say goodbye to everyone.
“We’ve had lots of amazing customers, and wonderful members of staff and we just want to say thank you to them all.”
Sue said one of the best parts has been watching customers, and staff - including her own Saturday girls - grow up and now some of them come in with their children and grandchildren.
One of her favourite memories was hiring a new Saturday girl when they were on holiday in Spain. They even interviewed her in the airport.
Sue said: “It’s not been an easy decision, or one taken lightly, but we all think now is the right time to retire.”
They opened their first Kingcotts in 1982 and in the late 80s they had five shops, with ones in Cranham and Hornchurch, along with the two in Upminster.
Paul said with so many shops they found themselves spending more time managing, rather than doing what they love - which is baking - so they decided to downsize and focus on the one in Station Road in 2012.
He said there is more to life than the money, and he was missing his passion for baking. Their son James has been working with them for 23 years, and said his parents’ retirement has given him an opportunity for a fresh start, and with his daughter Isabelle turning four later this year, it’s the perfect time to try his hand at something else.
He is planning on becoming a handyman, so he can work his own hours, and spend more time with his family - including with his wife Katie who also works in the shop.
But what next for Sue and Paul and Kingcotts? Well the couple are planning on spending more time sailing, but Paul said he will continue baking, and James has even said he has plans to build a mini-bakery in his garden shed, so he can share the family secrets with his daughter.