A COUPLE who started home baking at the beginning of lockdown have opened their own bakery shop.

After being made redundant from his job in hospitality, Jake Jones set about baking fresh produce at home with his partner James Talbot.

The Witney duo, both 25, delivered bread and other baked goods to nearby towns.

Now, less than seven months later, they have opened their own bakery, Pobi, in Witney’s Corn Street.

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Mr Talbot said: “Jake worked in hospitality for seven years but always wanted to bake and have his own business.

“He was made redundant and overnight decided to start his own business, initially from home and delivering to Carterton, Eynsham and other local areas.

“The long-term plan was to open a shop in Barry in Wales as that’s where he’s from but then things progressed, and then we saw the location in Corn Street.

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“We got a start up loan and it all happened quite quickly.

“The goal was that five, maybe 10 years down the line we might open a business but people really took to the home bakery and have really supported us, which is great.”

From baking at home in the early months of lockdown, the duo began preparing business plans come August.

However, setting up their own shop was far from straightforward.

Mr Talbot, who was raised in Eynsham, took two weeks leave from his job as an account manager for a flavours and fragrance company and got stuck in with getting the shop ready to open.

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“It’s been a complete refit job, but we managed to get it done in two weeks – I took two weeks leave and from sunrise to sunset we were here,” said Mr Talbot.

The refurbishment has been a major operation, seeing walls replastered, electrics rewired and the installation of two ovens.

While many would’ve been cautious about opening a new business during the coronavirus pandemic, the couple have thrown themselves into the challenge.

“It’s been okay so far, there’s been some poor weather and the threat of further lockdowns perhaps haven’t helped but we supply a few wholesalers and there’s a few other places wanting to take us on and sell products,” said former Bartholomew School pupil Mr Talbot.

“People are being very supportive and say they’re happy to see an independent bakers in the town.”

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Pobi, which means bake in Welsh, opened on October 12.

Since then, the bakery has made contacts in wholesalers and is looking forward to potentially starting masterclasses for local residents.

Mr Talbot said: “Jake’s passion is in bread so at the beginning we focussed on loaves of bread and to develop three or four types that were solid and would sell well, as well as some sweet traybakes.

“The bread has remained the focus, the sourdough is selling within an hour of being made, and we’ve now got a couple of employees who are also passionate about baking.

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“We sell their products and allow them to take a share of their profits.

“Our idea is to grow to the stage where can expand our space, and continue to expand with wholesale.

“Hopefully we can start doing masterclasses and make it a social space, as part of our business plan is that when the shop doors close, a social space opens for the good of the community.”