As the coffee shop boom continues unabated, a Burnley bakery is proving it has the right ingredients for success at both home and abroad. Business Editor JASON KAYLEY visited the Cherrytree Bakery, a business with a big heart.

WALK into any branch of Costa, Caffe Nero or Nando’s and you’ll be able to take a bite into a cake made with love.

It’s an ethos that has seen the Cherrytree Bakery, based in Billington Road, Burnley, become a huge success over the last 34 years.

Started in 1984 by now managing director Gary Entwistle, the firm now has a turnover approaching £13million, sends out 48 million goodies made by a workforce of 120, with expansion plans being drawn up.

But as well as the delicious muffins and mini-bites being made at their base in Belshaw Court don't tell the whole story.

The firm has helped finance the building of a high school in Shifo, Ethiopia, and work is almost complete on a sixth-form college in Kilenso Mokonisa, which are helping to transform the lives of those remote coffee-growing communities.

But this is a far cry from the very modest beginnings.

He said: “I used to be a trainee sales manager for Sunblest and I loved it. I was my own boss but I was working long hours, but they were very difficult times with lots of strikes and I just decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. I decided I wanted to start up on my own.”

So after speaking to an engineer from another bakery who had made some custom-made machinery, and a loan from his stepfather John Turkington, a well-known local businessman, he set up a small operation in Lowerhouse Lane, producing his delicious Chorley cakes, which have become a staple of the firm, to local suppliers.

But as interest in the products grew, so did the business and they soon moved to bigger premises in Daneshouse Road and then to their current HQ, which was opened by former Clarets boss Chris Waddle in 1997.

The firm started to supply the supermarkets with cakes and goodies, but it was the explosion of the coffee shop phenomenon that business really took off.

Gary said: “We were approached by Costa in 2005 to supply them with some produce. It helped us to upgrade our equipment to meet the demand and make us more efficient.

“At the start, we would provide them with one pallet on a Monday and three on a Wednesday. Today that is 10 on a Monday and 13 on a Wednesday.

“Coffee shops are a great place to meet or work and it’s fantastic to think of people having a chat over one of our products.

“We use ethically-sourced ingredients to make our products, and they are the finest you can get.

“Our equipment is top-notch and we take a great deal of pride in how they are presented.

“We want them to have an artisanal touch, to make each one feel like it’s been specially made for the customer.”

And it’s that desire to improve that has led to them helping to spread possibly the greatest commodity - knowledge - to some of the most deprived communities in the world.

It was a chance meeting with Piers Blake, a survivor of the 7/7 London bombing who set up the Costa Foundation, that made it happen.

Gary said: “We were at a Costa dinner and Piers came to sit on our table as someone was already in his seat on another table.

“He told us of what had happened to him, that he was on the bus that blew up killing 13 people, and he survived.

“He told us of how it was after that, he decided he wanted to do things that would make a difference. I asked if we could get involved and it went from there.

“I didn’t want to just donate some money, I wanted to create something that would create a legacy, helping people for generations to come.”

So Gary donated £175,000 to create the new school in Shifo, which has eight classrooms, two latrine blocks, and a library to help teach 960 children in the region.

The school was opened in November 2016, a moment that he said almost moved him to tears.

He said: “I went with my son Josh and daughter Lydia and it was a trip I will never forget.

“When we arrived, the whole village had turned out to welcome us. They performed dances and sang for us, it was very moving.

“Most of the people there live in mud huts - they really have nothing - so the education they will get at the new school will help to create a brighter future for themselves and their families.

“It will have a direct impact on the people we met. It’s a fantastic facility.

“I’m so proud we have been involved. I did it because of my faith in God and a wish to help those less fortunate and make an impact on people’s lives.

“The new school in Kilenso Mokonisa will be finished in September so I’m hoping to go and visit when it opens.”

But as they create a legacy in Ethiopia, the work to extend their business at home continues apace.

Gary said: “We are always looking at new products and we have been across to the States to see what’s new. We’ve been to Boston, New York and Washington to see what the latest trends are and we’re planning a trip to San Francisco as there is a lot of food innovation going on."

“We never stand still and we’re hoping to extend our premises so we can futureproof the business for our staff and customers.”