Spanish bakery chain slashes price of bread to 20 cents a loaf

Rival bakers up in arms over price cut by Navarro bakeries in Valencia region

A Navarro bakery in Quart de Poblet, Spain. Photograph : Guy Hedgecoe

A Navarro bakery in Quart de Poblet, Spain. Photograph : Guy Hedgecoe

 


María Ángeles Andújar has plenty to worry about. Her 57-year-old husband has been unemployed for three years and is only entitled to a €426 handout each month from the state. Although María Ángeles does some poorly paid cleaning work, it’s almost impossible to make ends meet.

But she smiles with satisfaction as she emerges from a bakery in the small town of Quart de Poblet, near the Mediterranean city of Valencia, clutching a carrier bag with four loaves of bread inside. Each one has cost her only 20 cents, compared to around 80 cents in other bakeries. “You can get five loaves for a euro here!” she says with delight. “These days you have to save wherever you can, because things are getting worse and worse.”

This shop is one of nine bakeries belonging to a company called Navarro that have started offering cut-price bread in recent months in the Valencia region.

The response has been overwhelming, with dozens of people queuing outside the bakeries each morning. Some customers, such as José Miguel Diez, come from neighbouring towns just for the bread. “It’s cheap and it tastes good,” he says, having bought 15 loaves.


Small profit
The scheme is the brainchild of José Navarro, a local baker-turned-businessman. Sara Guntiñas, a company spokesperson, says Navarro manages to make a small profit with each sale, despite the low price.

“The secret of the company is the quantity that we buy and sell,” she says, comparing it to low-cost firms that operate in bulk, such as Ryanair, easyJet and Ikea. “We’re the Ikea of bread.”

The Spanish jobless rate is at more than 26 percent and Valencia is suffering more than most regions, having relied massively on a decade-long property bubble that burst in 2008.

But while ordinary Valencians are embracing the concept of low-cost loaves, rival bakers are up in arms, in what the local media has dubbed “the bread war”.

“This hurts us and all the other bakeries in the town, [Navarro] are taking our business,” says Patrocinia Fernández, who runs a bread shop just round the corner from the Navarro bakery in Quart de Poblet. “It’s immoral.”