The Speckmann bakery in Wehrbleck has to close. The operating costs have increased too dramatically. On Saturday, all employees were informed
Wehrbleck – The new contract should be signed. Frank Speckmann would then no longer have to pay 1.56 cents for the kilowatt hour of gas from January, but 17.67 cents. Master baker Speckmann calculated the consumption for the company headquarters in Wehrbleck and in the branch in Wagenfeld: The monthly additional expenditure only for gas would have torn with approximately 7,500 euro a hole into the cash, which he could not have plugged any longer. The bakery would have had to sell the equivalent of 16,666 “normal” rolls (which currently cost 45 cents) to recoup this amount. A utopia. Speckmann decides after weeks of deliberation: He closes.
Gas price explodes: Bakery must close
The Speckmann bakery in Wehrbleck celebrated its 50th anniversary on February 1, 2015. The clientele is loyal, and so is the workforce. The majority has been employed here for decades; Heinz Speckmann and his wife Waltraud once founded the business. And Frank Speckmann’s voice falters in the conversation on Monday afternoon, because: “There’s a lot attached to the family business. You don’t just stop like that.”
No debts, no investment backlog: the bakery’s business is rock solid
In a works meeting on Saturday, all 17 employees were informed – all would have understood the step, the decision-making process. The Speckmann family runs the business rock solid: no debts, the facility meets all technical standards, no investment backlog.
There’s a lot riding on it, on the family business. You don’t just stop like that.
The team is motivated, a “sworn-in bunch,” which is why Speckmann’s heart bleeds: “I’m really sorry about the great, very well-coordinated staff, on whom I could always rely one hundred percent. There was hardly any sick leave, and I can’t remember anyone oversleeping.”
Additional costs would not only be incurred for gas: Electricity and gasoline costs would be added. “And you can’t fob off the staff with twelve euros minimum wage either. They also have higher expenses.” Speckmann predicts a widespread death of small craft businesses, which simply could not absorb price increases of X times. Meanwhile, the price of gas in Germany continues to rise rapidly.
Customers lack the purchasing power to pay for price increases
And price increases for products? Speckmann waves it off: “Customers don’t pay for price increases. They don’t have the purchasing power.” And gives an example: a piece of plum cake, good for four servings, is currently priced at seven euros. Actually, each portion should cost two euros. The customer returned it again – too expensive.
The most recent price adjustment dates from April 2022: “We had to adjust prices by an average of six percent – many of the raw materials had risen by 15 percent and more. Flour for us even by 100 percent – and it’s still going in that direction. So we don’t even know what’s coming yet.” That price adjustments also generated higher revenues, “no, that went exactly in the other direction,” Speckmann explains.
The plan is to close on Nov. 30, 2022. Since bakery salespeople are in demand, Speckmann believes they are in demand on the job market. The same applies to the rest of the team. The notice periods and other formalities still need to be checked.
Nine bakers approached: No one wants to take over the branch in Wagenfeld
And what is Speckmann planning for himself? “I don’t know.” Frank Speckmann is 53 years old, has been on the job for 37 years, without a vacation. And for Waltraut (79 years old) and Heinz Speckmann (84 years old), going to the store every day is simply part of the job, too.
And the branch in Wagenfeld? The news of the closure is still too fresh, but he has already phoned nine bakeries to see if they want to take over the premises: “All refusals so far.”
House and bakery with 400 square meters of production space at the company headquarters remain, the family would not sell the inventory. 4,500 rolls could be baked per hour on the 30 square meters of baking space. The 80-square-meter grocery store is also closing. The Speckmann family asks that all vouchers be redeemed by Nov. 15.
And the recipes? “They go in the box.”