AprilRHM finalised details of the sale of its Golden West burger bun subsidiary as separate logistics and bakery businesses. Chicago-based East Balt Bakeries bought the bakery business. Golden West had been under review since October 2004. Cake and bread company Finsbury Food Group’s CEO Dave Brooks announced it had a multi-million pound war chest for acquisitions, and planned to add additional cake businesses and bread businesses to its portfolio. The company generated £2.3m from selling a parcel of surplus land at its Memory Lane cakes site in Cardiff. Cheshire-based Roberts Bakery started rolling out new packaging on its morning goods after repackaging its bread in February 2004. The bakery also extended its premium range with a Toastie loaf and a premium bloomer. Administrators KPMG put plant baker New Rathbones up for sale, after being called in on April 1. The deadline for indicative bids was set as April 13. Administrators later announced they were splitting the company in two – the Wigan, Wakefield and Middlesbrough bakeries were to be sold to one buyer and the Leicester, Walsall and Peterborough sites to a separate bidder. On April 30, Harry Kear and Morrisons announced they had formed a partnership to buy the Wakefield package of sites.British Bakeries relaunched its flagship Hovis brand as Healthiest Ever Hovis after a £10m investment. The overhaul included new logo, new recipes, lower salt levels, new packaging and new advertising. New frozen speciality bread and pastry supplier Mantinga UK made its official launch, announcing a target annual turnover of £1.2m for 2006. The company makes a range of part-baked bread and sweet products by traditional methods in a bakery in Lithuania.Burger King started selling hot baguettes as it developed a ‘fresh-baked’ range. It said it was taking on fast food rivals, such as McDonald’s, as well as new arrivals such as Subway. The bespoke demi-baguettes supplied by Delice de France were rolled out to 700 UK Burger King restaurants.Napier Brown said it was closing the James Budgett Sugars factory in Ledbury and mill in Hull, following clearance of its acquisition by the Competition Commission. DSM Bakery Ingredients was sold to Dutch private equity firm Gilde, subject to regulatory approval by the European Commission.Bakery retailer Three Cooks announced plans to revamp its 200 remaining stores, after closing 40 loss-making sites. The company also introduced a new corporate identity, renaming itself Cooks.Food giant Geest’s specialist bakery in Barton, south Humberside, was gutted in a fire. The bakery was one of the largest production sites for garlic bread in the UK, baking 7,000 baguettes a day.Welsh bakery Brace’s opened a £9.2m plant close to its existing bakery in Crumlin, near Newport. The 64,000sq ft bakery produces white bread and features the latest technology, such as automatic ingredients feed and spiral prover.Peters’ Bakery started moving equipment into its new bakery as a £7.5m rebuilding project neared completion. The Durham factory was being rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 2004.
The Craigmillar range from BakeMark UK (Wirral Merseyside) includes the Rich Celebration Cake Mix, which can be used in traditional and sheet cakes.Bakers can add their own creative touches by using extra fruit, nuts, marzipan and icings, such as Topice Overwrappable White Icing, says BakeMark.Bakers and caterers looking for an alternative cake might choose BakeMark UK’s Madeira Cake Mix. This can be used for sheet and traditional cakes or individual and mini cakes.Shelf-life extension has become the major issue for product development in celebration cakes, adds the company. BakeMark UK’s plain and chocolate long-life cake mixes offer a shelf-life twice as long as some standard mixes, even crème cake mixes, says the company.BakeMark UK’s Caravan Brill brand includes mixes for less traditional celebration cakes, such as Pudding Cake Base, Chocolate Pudding Cake Base, and Yoghurt Cake Base.
THE Bakers’ Benevolent Society is holding its first Mid-Summer Ball at the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London on June 22. The event starts with a champagne reception, followed by a five-course banquet and then dancing to a live band. Tickets cost £100 per person or £900 per table of 10.Contact Sue Aley on 01992 575951 for further details of the ball or to reserve your table.
Rounding off the annual meeting of the Scottish Association of Master Bakers, this year’s ’James Scott’ Technical Sessions scored a notable first: never before had these popular sessions been addressed by the incumbent president of the Natio-nal Association of Master Bakers.Mike Holling, retail operations manager with Birds of Derby, entitled his speech ’Surviving in the high street’ and treated delegates at the Peebles Hydro hotel to tips on boosting turnover, many of which were focused on marketing initiatives. He urged bakers to give more publicity to the freshness of their products and to the skill invested in their creation. Arguing that products should be supported by “good standard” point-of-sale material, he insisted: “Marketing should not be done with a felt tip pen on the back of a cake box.”bright and modernRecommending “bright and modern” shop designs, Holling continued: “From time to time, you should assess your business from the customer’s eye… starting with the shop front. Do the contents in the window catch the customer’s eye? When was its appearance last changed? Are you fully utilising the space available?”But appearances are not everything, he stressed. “Ensure all staff have good product knowledge. Remind them that every time they serve a customer, they hold your company’s reputation in their hands,” he said. Shop staff should be involved in the process of making changes to window displays or interior design, he added.Subscribing to the soundbite “retail is detail”, Holling underlined the commercial advantage derived by his company from the introduction of an electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) system some five years ago. The “invaluable” information yielded by this system had allowed Birds to make the right decisions, he claimed. Birds operates a policy whereby products falling below a certain turnover threshold become subject to review and to possible expulsion from the company’s production roster.Birds of Derby has no wholesale component to its business and relies solely on retail sales. Holling noted that the company had already reached agreement on the purchase of its latest shop, thus taking to 50 the number of Birds retail outlets spread across east central England. Annual turnover of around £18m is divided across the following broad product sales mix: filled rolls/bake-off 17.5%; cooked meat/sausage 16.1%; bread rolls 16%; savouries/pies 14.7%; confectionery 13.6%; cream cakes 12.9%; and bread 9.2%. Thus, bread represented the smallest product category in sales terms and was expected to remain “very static”, according to the speaker. By contrast, he pointed to bread rolls as a potentially significant growth area for the business.In what was a generally upbeat assessment of the craft baking industry, Holling also acknowledged a number of problems common to most operators in this field, including: pressures from legislation and red tape; rising utility costs; staff turnover – although Birds enjoys a relatively low rate of 7% per annum; loss of trade to supermarket chains; and councils’ parking charge policies. He also highlighted the problem of finding good retail locations with affordable rents.consumer trendsAlso on the theme of maximising business opportunities, British Bakels’ head of product development Gary Gibbs identified health, indulgence and convenience as the three forces that were continuing – and would continue – to drive consumer trends. Heightened awareness and ever-increasing choice now meant that “low is no longer enough” as customers were seeking products that were good for them rather than less bad, he told delegates. “Taste remains paramount – if you have got a good-tasting product, it sells.”Gibbs also pointed to certain types of product with huge sales potential that were effectively under-represented in the bakery field. For example, he said: “There are big opportunities for foods targeting the elderly or the ageing as well as pregnant women.” He also envisaged strong sales in the future for products focused on weight control and on lifestyle.Sounding a perhaps less welcome note, Gibbs also alluded to EU Health & Nutrition Claims Regulations that came into force in January this year. These require nutrition claims relating to products to be scientifically proven; the nutrient had to be included in a significant proportion and had to deliver the claimed benefit, he explained. At the same time, the claims for the product had to be clear to the average consumer, he added.succession planningThe SAMB Technical Sessions also returned to a familiar subject that is relevant to a high proportion of UK bakery businesses – namely succession planning. Martin Stepek, chief executive of the Scottish Family Business Association (SFBA), confirmed that 67% of the country’s family-run companies did not survive into the next generation, mainly because of “a failure to plan for succession”. He urged family businesses to tackle, as early as possible, questions such as: Who will take over the company? Will they take over ownership, leadership or both? And when will this happen?Basing his comments on personal experience of the hand-over from one generation to the next within his family’s electrical retailing and travel agency businesses, Stepek spoke of the need to encourage genuine, inter-generational teamwork well ahead of the point of succession. The older generation had to ensure that the business heads of the future were suitably trained and were treated with patience once embarked on their learning curve.He also recommended that the younger generation spend perhaps four or five years gaining experience outside the family business. “It’s good to get them grounded in what real work is,” he explained. “It gets you work experience and allows you to become yourself.”Formulation of a succession plan – including the exact date on which the senior family member would exit the business – was vital to a successful hand-over, according to Stepek. The older generation sometimes found difficulty in staying away from the business following their retirement, often involving themselves in day-to-day activities to the point where they undermine the confidence of their successor(s). “Decide a retirement date and stick to it,” said Stepek. “Help is good when it’s asked for, but not so good when it’s imposed.” And he added: “Plan your post-work life – you can’t play golf every day.”According to Stepek, the SFBA had become aware of a lack of understanding in many professional circles of the specific challenges confronting family businesses. In response, the association was planning to establish accredited certificates/diplomas in family business affairs, designed to enable, for example, lawyers and accountants to focus on “the real issues and best practice in family business”.The need for planning was central to the other presentations at this year’s SAMB Technical Sessions. Andrew Shepherd, a partner with chartered accountant and business adviser Johnston Carmichael, pointed out that inheritance tax accounted for 40% of an estate’s value above the sum of £300,000. However, the impact of the tax could be mitigated by, for example, the making of gifts during one’s life.Shepherd also strongly recommended the making of a will, so as to guarantee that “the right people get your money”. He added: “Dying intestate is a just a muddle. Make sure you learn from other people’s mistakes.”training centreThe Scottish baking industry’s desire to plan for the future lay behind the development of the Scottish Bakery Training Centre at Mathiesons’ headquarters in Larbert, Central Scotland (see also news). Scheduled for its official launch later this month, the facility incorporates a training room and training bakery, kitted out with a range of new equipment, including oven, prover/retarder, roll plant and mixer capacity.SAMB training manager Arthur Rayer reiterated the call for bakers both north and south of the border to make use of this valuable new resource which was “as good as anything you can get anywhere in Scotland”.The facility provides an excellent opportunity to address the industry’s “at risk” skills base and to develop staff capable of shouldering the ever-heavier burdens associated with legislation, quality and accountability, he said. According to Rayer, it represented an important addition to the UK training resource as a time when other colleges were either disappearing or were facing an uncertain future.The centre was expected to host courses on a wide range of topics, including: health & safety; food safety; HACCP; first aid; information technology; quality and customer service; and, of course, the full range of technical bakery subjects ranging from bread- and pastry-making to confectionery and microbiology. A link had been forged with the University of Abertay in Dundee for the provision of courses on, among other topics, market trends, green production, packaging and legislation, said Rayer.His concluding message was unequivocal: “We now need the members’ commitment and support. It’s up to you to use the resource.” n
Matthew Goodman, policy representative, Forum of Private Business (FPB)High street bakers, already concerned that their trade is being hit by high taxes and the might of large supermarkets, are among the small firms that believe the government is not listening to them.The Forum of Private Business (FPB), which represents small bakeries across the UK, is pushing for the bi-monthly Small Business Forum to be given a greater say in influencing policy to reflect the needs of its members. It is now urging Prime Minister Gordon Brown to rethink any clamp-down on ’income shifting’, a long-standing practice carried out by many small firms.Most bakers face the added pressure of the increasing costs of flour, high fuel taxes and health and safety red tape. But the forum provides a rare opportunity to lobby directly the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR), and the Competitiveness Minister Stephen Timms.The next few months will be critical, as the Government drafts its Enterprise Framework, and the Small Business Forum must play a role in deciding how that framework is to be implemented. Provided that the right changes are made, there is a real opportunity to give the forum – and the small firms it represents – a very real say in shaping the next 10 years of enterprise policy.
This year’s annual British Sandwich Industry Awards are taking place on 15 May at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. The Sammies feature 12 different awards, including four sub-categories for British Sandwich Designer of the Year. Other awards include Bakery Sandwich Shop, Independent Sandwich Bar and New Sandwich of the Year. Around £5 billion is spent on approximately 2.7 billion commercially-made sandwiches a year, in an industry that employs over 300,000 people in the UK. The awards seek to recognise those who have excelled in their field, rewarding the independent retailer as well as large scale operations.
Warburtons staff in Blackpool are getting a career boost after the company and Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union forked out for a learning centre.They have invested £5,000 in the new facility, which staff can use during their breaks and production shut-downs.More than 20 staff in Marton are already using new computers to improve their IT skills and take up business-related training in computers, health and safety, finance, touch typing, and online skills for life. Courses for literacy and numeracy will also be introduced soon.Jason Hall, unit manager at Warburtons, said: “We already have around a third of our staff working to gain better qualifications and more sign up almost every day. The new centre will give employees the opportunity to further their skills and qualifications in an accessible way.”
Other issues affecting the organisation, highlighted at the AGM and in its annual report, include possible legislation on the mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid, salt reduction and criticism of plant bread by the Real Bread Campaign. “The government and the FSA are fully behind us and we have to make sure this legislation is changed,” said Polson. The Federation of Bakers (FoB) is so concerned by the omission that it is sending its CEO, Gordon Polson, to Brussels next month to lobby MEPs and EU officials to have the legislation amended to include products sold by number. Bakery products sold by number, such as four-packs of crumpets and six-packs of rolls, are under threat because proposed EC labelling legislation only makes provision for products sold by weight.Under current draft regulation on the provision of food information to consumers, which aims to brings together general and nutrition labelling for all pre-packed foods, there is no provision for products sold by number. The issue is one of many on the agenda of newly elected FoB chairman Mark Fairweather, who is CEO of Allied Milling and Baking. He takes over the role from Joe Street after being formally elected at the Annual General Meeting on 13 May.
Sunday 27 June, Melton Big BakeAs part of the Melton Mowbray Country Fair, the organisers are inviting bakers to enter the Big Bake competition. Entries are invited from bakers working in bakeries, restaurants, pubs, supermarkets and cafés, although there will also be a separate home bakers category. Judging will be on appearance taste and ingredients used. The organisers say they are supporting the Real Bread Campaign and will give special recognition to breads baked without artificial additives and using great ingredients. Categories include white wheat bread, brown wheat bread, wholemeal bread, sourdough bread, non-wheat bread, speciality bread, small savoury baked goods and best decorated cake, among others.www.leicestershirefoodlinks.org.uk
Andrew Jones has not been a bakery man all his life. In fact, until seven years ago, the MD of Swansea-based Mono Equipment, which scooped the prize for Bakery Supplier of the Year at the 2010 Bakery Industry Awards, worked in the automotive industry.But he says it is this experience which helped him boost the fortunes of Mono Equipment, which supplies items such as rack, deck and convection ovens, dough processors and confectionery depositors to both supermarket in-store bakeries and independent high street bakers. “Working in manufacturing in the automotive sector allowed me to bring ’lean principles’ into the bakery manufacturing sector,” he says.Lean manufacturing, pioneered by Toyota, involves going back to basics and stripping out all unnecessary processes. Last year, the 60-year-old Mono revamped its factory, with the dual aims of better meeting the needs of its customers and making the processes more efficient. “The factory is now streamlined and we have adopted lean principles at the production facility, which means we have become a lot more competitive,” says Jones.This was just one of the factors that helped Mono Equipment on its journey to BIA victory, according to the judges. The products themselves have also received attention. “We have taken a good look at our products from a design perspective and gone back to some very solid principles of dough processing,” Jones says.In addition, after listening to customers, Mono’s new equipment has been designed to be as energy-efficient as possible. “We have done quite a lot with our oven range just recently,” says Jones. “Energy efficiency is key to us moving forward and much of the BIA application was based on the features and benefits of our new oven controller. We have reduced energy consumption considerably in the whole of the range.”Jones acknowledges Mono had to respond to increasing competition from European manufacturers. “We had lost a little ground to our European competitors, but we have really come back strongly in recent years.”The current business has 165 staff based in its Swansea factory, which is complete with R&D facilities. The company also has a sales force based regionally throughout the UK and split to serve multiple retailers and independent high street bakers. Jones says the company has products that are versatile and “cut across both markets”.Many manufacturing firms have been hit hard by the recession of the past three years, but Jones says that while Mono was initially hit hard by a “sharp slowdown”, business picked up swiftly and there have even been benefits. “The macro-economics of the recession mean British manufacturers are far more competitive against their European counterparts because of the currency exchange rate,” he says. “We are winning a lot more work now against our European competitors.”In fact, export now makes up approximately 25% of the company’s turnover. Jones is keen to further tap this mine and believes winning the award last year will help this ambition. While he acknowledges it is difficult to make a direct link, sales have increased since the award was made, he says. “We have marketed the award extensively to our overseas customer base and we have seen a pick-up in our sales, so it has given us a lot of credibility in the overseas market as well as the UK.”The judges’ verdictThe judges cited Mono’s recent restructuring of its factory to ensure it delivered “the best possible quality first time, every time” as a solid demonstration of the firm’s understanding of its customers’ needs. They were also impressed by the way in which new products were engineered to be as environmentally-friendly as possible, with the latest energy-saving functions. This, they felt, would benefit all of Mono’s customers.Claims to fameIt is not often that bakery equipment manufacturers can make a royal claim to fame, but in July it was revealed that the oven used to bake the wedding cake of Prince William and Kate Middleton was none other than a Mono Equipment oven. The Harmony Modular Deck Oven was used by cake-maker Fiona Cairns, who made the eight-tier wedding cake for the Royal Wedding in April. “We relished the challenge of producing a cake fit for a future King and Queen,” says Cairns.And that is not only Mono Equipment’s claim to fame. The company was also recently featured on the BBC series The Apprentice for the week nine task ’The Biscuit’. Jones says he was very excited to be approached by the production company Talkback Thames. “Candidates from teams Venture and Logic were sent by Lord Sugar to our test bakeries in Swansea, along with board members Nick Hewer and Karren Brady, to develop a biscuit which they then had to pitch to Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose,” says Jones.The contestants used Mono Equipment’s range of mixers, eco-touch ovens, confectionery depositors and chocolate sprayers to produce the biscuits, which were sent to the respective team members in London who had been working on the product packaging. “This was an exciting time for Mono Equipment and the whole day was a great success after weeks of planning and preparation,” says Jones.On transition into the food industryJones says: “I have absolutely loved my time in the bakery sector, working together with both the customers and the suppliers of raw materials to ensure the consumer gets a great product. It is a great sector to be involved in.” On what it takes to win a BIA award”Probably listening to our customers and developing products in line with their needs is the most important thing,” says Jones. “This applies with national accounts, but also respecting the needs of the independent baker.”He reckons the development of the new Mono Equipment range is probably his biggest achievement and he is particularly proud of Mono’s new oven controller (pictured below). “It’s very intuitive and it enables both standardisation of a product range, as well as flexibility in the menu. Our revamped bread plant is a true mixture of innovation and heritage offering the chance to make traditional breads using cutting-edge technology.” BIA 2011 is fast approaching Don’t miss out on the biggest event in the baking industry calendar. The Baking Industry Awards 2011 take place at the Park Lane Hilton, London, on 7 September. There are just a handful of seats remaining, so book now to avoid disappointment. Email [email protected] or call 01293 846593 to attend a top-notch networking event with three-course meal and entertainment.