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The Leysdown Bakery team to open Boyce's Bakery in former Shoe Zone, Rainham


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A family-run bakery empire is opening its 12th branch in Kent.

Boyce's Bakery is taking over the former Shoe Zone in Rainham which has been empty since October last year.

The bakery will open in the former Shoe Zone shop in Rainham Precinct
The bakery will open in the former Shoe Zone shop in Rainham Precinct

The chain is run by Keith and Karen Boyce, their son Tommy Boyce, their daughter Stacey Canty and her husband Nic.

They already have 11 branches across the county – Leysdown, Sheerness, Brambledown, Edenbridge, Allington, Gillingham, Parkwood (Rainham), Canterbury, Herne Bay, Hoo and Snodland.

The business, known for its freshly baked bread and tempting home-made cakes, began with the Leysdown shop when Keith and Karen moved to the Isle of Sheppey from London 25 years ago.

A map showing Boyce's Bakery shops in Kent
A map showing Boyce's Bakery shops in Kent

The family ran the bakery and also sold their goods at 16 markets every week.

Over the years the business has expanded and focused more on its shops than the markets. Tommy began the expansion by opening his own branch in Edenbridge when a premises became available next to their market stall.

Tommy, who has worked in the business since he was at school, said: "We gradually expanded to five shops and were still doing the markets, then we moved on to more shops and stopped doing the markets.

Karen and Keith Boyce celebrating 20 years of the Leysdown Bakery in 2016
Karen and Keith Boyce celebrating 20 years of the Leysdown Bakery in 2016

"My parents are semi-retired now but still very hands-on. We employ around 130 staff."

Boyce's has continued to thrive, despite the pandemic. They opened in Allington just before lockdown in 2020 and opened in Gillingham High Street in March last year, taking over the former Liddelows Larder bakery.

The Leysdown Bakery at the Mid Kent Shopping Centre in Allington
The Leysdown Bakery at the Mid Kent Shopping Centre in Allington
Karen Boyce at the opening of Leysdown Bakery
Karen Boyce at the opening of Leysdown Bakery

The latest branch to open was Herne Bay, in the long-empty former Carphone Warehouse in Mortimer Street, creating around 20 jobs. The café and bakery welcomed customers from the end of March, after an £80,000 refit of the shop premises.

Sister Stacey and her husband Nic ran their own bakeries – Billy's Bakehouse in Hoo and Snodland – and the family's businesses have recently merged. The Herne Bay branch was their first venture together and Rainham will be their second.

Tommy, 34, said: "Moving into Rainham is a risk, because you have got competition there with Greggs and Costa.

"We are popular because of the large variety we offer. It's not just cakes and bread.

"Older people like us because we are traditional and we make things how they should be made.

"We also offer more modern things – we have got lunch options, meals deals, paninis. As well as the takeaway service we offer a sit down service so people can sit down with a good cup of coffee and a cake."

Boyce's Bakery owner Tommy Boyce
Boyce's Bakery owner Tommy Boyce
Where it all began - Leysdown Bakery
Where it all began - Leysdown Bakery

The dad-of-three added: "As well as the takeaway, the new shop in Rainham will hopefully have a sit down area for 30 or 40 customers depending on how we fit it out. It is a big premises.

"It is all still going through now but we hope to be open in three months.

"We like, everyone have had obstacles to overcome in the last few years because of the pandemic. We have been trying to get through it, while also expanding. But there is no stopping us."

Shoe Zone closed its Rainham branch in 2021 along with others around the country after facing losses during the pandemic.

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