‘It started with a Pillowcase in a Pub’
The founder of the business, Mr. William Robinson, was only 24 when he started the family enterprise at the turn of the century.
He was married to a well-known innkeeper’s daughter and set-up in his father-in-law’s business. William was a baker by trade and when he found a disused oven in the Outdoor Beer Dept, he just couldn’t resist the temptation to bake some bread.
Equipment was scanty but where there’s a will there’s a way.
Soon William was off to collect his flour, using a pillowcase as a container. The loaves turned out fine and William quite casually left them on the bar to cool. By closing time all the loaves were sold. He needed no further encouragement, and set up as a baker at 47 New Street, West Bromwich. The original bakery measured only 24ft by 12ft and had a single oven. From these humble beginnings sprang the thriving business of today.
From the modest start and an initial team of three in the bakery, William Robinson & his sons George and Jack grew the firm to 24 retail shops, a 50,000 sq ft production bakery, a 12 van delivery fleet & more than 280 employees by the late 1950’s.
In the days before national chains monopolised the high street bakeries & cake shops, Robinson’s was a familiar name in every Black Country town, big and small; in fact many towns had several Robinson’s shops, wafting the smell of freshly baked bread onto the streets, while the cakes and confectionary in the window displays tempted passers-by inside.
The West Bromwich based firm was a famous family run business, fondly remembered by former employees and customers alike and the 1960’s & early 70’s saw further growth thanks to the focus on quality cakes and confectionary.
However, Robinson’s was taken over by M Firkin Ltd in 1982 and the name gradually disappeared from the high street as it merged into ‘Firkins’. After a period of further growth the business went through a more chequered history, and came under a number of ownerships, with many shop closures and multiple administrations before the business finally ceased trading in March 2015.
Before the liquidation of the company took place, another family run Black Country firm (Valencia Fine Foods Ltd) stepped in to make an offer for parts of the business. A package of shops were negotiated to relaunch a West Midlands based Bakery chain, re-employing as many of the original staff as possible. Our first shop was originally a Robinson’s shop, so we felt it was fitting that rather than reboot ‘Firkins’, we would revert back to Robinson’s and our West Brom shop opened in May 2015.
Following the successful launch of our shops was our production ‘cakery’ specialising in Wedding Cakes & Celebration Cakes (as well as producing our confectionary items for the shops and speciality desserts) at the rear of our Wolverhampton site. By the end of 2018 we had out grown our production capacity with all the amazing cakes being ordered & produced, so we invested in a new (much bigger!) purpose built ‘Cakery’ in West Bromwich to relocate for the end of August 2019 to our new hub of cake creativity. With the success of our Robinson’s Retail & Manufacturing business, we took the decision to vertically integrate our Foodservice & Wholesale operation into the business, the future really looks bright for Robinson’s!