Bakers will survive through to 2015, but other independents, such as convenience stores, grocers and petrol forecourts, are likely to be wiped out by then. That is unless key recommendations from the All Party Small Shops Group are taken on board, predicts a new Parliamentary report.The report from the All Party Small Shops group of MPs says government policies can undermine bakers capabilities and competitive advantage, but they are relatively shielded from competitive pressures. This is due to three main factors – moderate local rivalry, the fact bakery suppliers wield low levels of power, and because there is little substitute for a baker’s shop.As bakers tend to source from regional flour mills and Bako, the supply chain is “divorced from that of large businesses, with independents able to offer a larger range of goods with higher quality than can be achieved elsewhere”, the report says.The group, chaired by Jim Dowd, MP for Lewisham West, suggests independent bakers foster innovation in the grocery market. Product innovation such as sourdough and organic products, first created by independent bakers, has influenced consumer demand, the report says. The supermarkets appear to copy these innovations, although they sell a restricted range of baked goods. The long-awaited report High Street Britain: 2015, published on Wednesday, attacks a “heavily unbalanced trading environment”, which will damage the UK socially, economically and environmentally. The report says there are 184,695 businesses operating 278,630 shops in the UK, which constitutes 11% of all UK businesses. Of these, almost half are managed by a sole trader and 103,000 have fewer than five employees. But the UK has lost nearly 30,000 independent food, beverage and tobacco retailers over the last decade.The report lists the damaging effects on small shops of aggression from larger competitors, distortion of the supply chain, the cost of property, crime, poor planning decisions, a lack of appropriate business support and disproportionate regulatory burdens.Legislation can cost a small retailer anything over £10,000 a year, and the burden of red tape on small retailers is dis-proportionate, it says. And official agencies and regulators are failing to provide the necessary information on how best to meet legislative requirements, it adds. “Once a tipping point is reached, many small shops could be lost instantly, as wholesalers no longer find it profitable to supply them,” the MPs warn.National Association of Master Bakers chief executive David Smith told British Baker: “The group has taken a very serious look at retailing and come up with some interesting points. Bakers have adapted and survived better than other independents. But this report is only good news if we can keep the diversity of the high street. People will not go down the high street if only the baker remains on it.”
The ISA Dialog multi-deck chilled cabinet is a new collection featuring the latest refrigeration technology and energy efficiency characteristics. The latest addition to the ISA One range includes multi-decks, serve-overs, impulse and island display cases which fit convenience stores, independent retailers, butchers, supermarkets and forecourts.Dialog is an integral plug-in multi-deck, available in four lengths – 1m, 1.3m, 1.9m and 2.5m – or multiples of these to create continuous runs. There are standard colour matches for the external trim while the internal finish is silver. The 450mm deep shelves provide a large display capacity in the smallest possible footprint. The shelves and brackets are low profile, minimising their visual impact.
Bread sales are buoyant, according to the latest figures from TNS (pg 4). The main reason appears to be that premium breads, including brown and seeded, are proving popular and adding value to the sector.Health and nutrition are concerns that are here to stay, but so are climate change (carbon footprint), ethical trading (poverty) and sustainability (’we’ve only got one planet’). In fact, over the next few years I foresee an unprecented emphasis on everything from food miles to recyclable packaging, from Fairtrade to sustainable sources.All these could become labelling requirements by the multiples. They want to be seen to lead the field in climate change, sustainability and other ethical issues, believing it will make the consumer feel OK about purchasing. In rea-lity, it is also a way for the supermarkets and other stores to say: “We are ethical – shop here and feel good about it.”I’m sorry if that sounds a bit cynical. What they are doing is good. And we really do need to recycle more and pay a fair price for a fair product. But what worries me is labelling. For goodness’ sake, let’s have single industry standards or single industry symbols – not one symbol for this supermaket and another symbol for that. The Traffic Lights versus Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) symbol war has been chaotic. It has been unfair on bakers and food manufacturers and muliplying that several times over would lead to more chaos.Sometimes, ethical policies clash. Is it better to use energy to grow fruits for tarts or torten under artificial heat and light in a greenhouse, locally, that can be delivered in cardboard and require virtually no food miles? Or is it better to grow them overseas, in natural sunlight and pay a Fairtrade price for them? That decision alone might involve symbols ranging from food miles, to carbon footprint and Fairtrade. And how important will recyclable packaging become? Will we see all bread packaged in recyclable plastic next?Finally, as we hear that Bakery NVQs are to disappear (pgs 6 and 20) and be replaced by modules under the heading of Food Manufacturing, may I urge you to read and heed Chris North’s comments about how to attract more youngsters to bakery (pg 13). He has vision indeed!
Whitbread saw like-for-like sales at its Costa coffee shop chain increase by 4.7% in the 13 weeks to 31 May, compared to the same period last year. Total sales grew by 18.4%.Alan Parker, Whitbread’s chief executive, said: “Costa has benefiting from its rapid expansion programme and continued like-for-like sales growth. Fifty five additional stores have been opened in this quarter including 41 in the UK.”In a preliminary statement for the financial year to 1 March, Whitbread said that Costa achieved total sales of £175.1m, up 22.4%.Growth was driven by openings in new markets such as Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and China.Total like-for-like sales in UK stores were up 6.6% in 2006-7 thanks to a store refurbishment programme and the introduction of more premium food and coffee products. Costa opened 199 stores in the last financial year and has a target of 2,000 stores by 2010/11.
Since winning a Baking Industry Award in September last year, you’d expect potential new customers to be making a beeline for Kent-based Monty’s Bakehouse, banging on the bakery’s doors. Except there is no Bakehouse as such; the firm outsources its manufacturing to a third party. Anyone setting their Sat Nav for the bakery would likely find themselves in Cornwall.And just like the mythical Mr Kipling, the eponymous Monty is a figment of a marketer’s imagination. Nevertheless, Monty’s Bakehouse does make exceedingly good Food-to-go Innovations – though thankfully it hasn’t adopted this as its tagline – having won the Baking Industry Award of the same name.Monty’s has its own, bluntly succinct strap – ’hot, posh pastries’ – a tag that surely fits well with the handful of sporting arenas already selling Monty’s packaged bake-off products to upper-crust fans: Twickenham, The Oval, and the billionaire’s playground, also known as Chelsea FC.But confident branding alone was not enough to scoop the Christian Salvesen-sponsored Food-to-go Innovations Award at September 2007’s Baking Industry Awards (BIA). Clever packaging, a quality product and CSR principles were all crucial to this pastry-maker seeing off tough competition from giants Brambles Foods and Country Choice. “We’re a small business competing in a marketplace that’s represented by very large companies,” says MD Matt Crane (above), whose CV lists stints with ad agencies and supermarket Safeway as a buyer and marketer.”Trying to get yourself heard with smaller resources is not always easy. We’re now able to turn around and say we’ve won an award for innovation, and actually have evidence that what we’ve been doing is being recognised by the industry – both in terms of product development and the quality of the product itself. From that point of view the Baking Industry Awards accolade has been extremely useful.”TWIN PROPELLERSMonty’s is the brainchild of Crane and Jacqui Davidson, who provide the marketing and product development drive. The pair met fortuitously at a party in 2003 and are both creators of the brand and the twin propellers behind the business. This aviation analogy is all the more fitting given that the young firm – which has yet to celebrate its fourth birthday – took off when it ditched its first incarnation, supplying motorway service stations, and focused instead on airlines.Crane says he wasn’t afraid to pull the plug on clients Little Chef and Road Chef. “We realised that unless we were in an environment where the uptake of the product was rapid – that is, where service was quick – we couldn’t guarantee the product’s quality. So we withdrew.”BUSINESS TAKES FLIGHTCrane and Davidson then dabbled with a kiosk concept, but the breakthrough came when they were introduced to an airline – a meeting that saved the business. “We’ve always had the belief that what we’re doing is good enough; we just had to find a place where it would work. So much of life is chance and tenacity. You’ve got to network yourself in the best way possible, and if we hadn’t been introduced to the right people at the right time, within two months the business would have been in an utterly different position.”Airlines ticked the boxes for quick service and handheld products and the business took off. “We now know where our business model will work and where it won’t work,” says Crane.The idea was carried into sporting venues, which have proven successful avenues. “Why? Because you can slip a Monty’s in your pocket and get a round of drinks. It’s thinking those little things through that have helped us.”Brand-building, done in-house with advice from branding contacts, has also sparked interest in the product. “We really try to encourage customers to get in touch with us. We hear from Air Canada passengers every week, sometimes every day. And every time they serve a Monty’s on an aeroplane it’s like a focus group! People are bored on a plane, so they’ll key a message into their Blackberry, tell us how much they enjoy the product or ask where can they buy it,” says Crane.So what’s the story behind the clever packaging, noted by the BIA judges? “We realised that if we could develop a product that didn’t require any food handling or preparation – and could be baked in-packet – we could save on costs, as well as protecting product quality for the retailer or foodservice partner,” says Crane.Rather than choose one packaging developer, different suppliers from across Europe were sourced for each element of the packaging. The board takes temperatures upwards of 250?C; the lining prevents sticking; the inks don’t bubble or degrade with heat, nor present any contaminant to the food; and the packet is vented to release moisture. The process took a year to get right.MOVE TO GREEN PACKAGINGThe next step will be to make that packaging 100% recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. “It’s really important to us,” says Crane. “We’re selling 50,000 Monty’s a week, so how many cardboard cartons, how many trees is that? The beauty of our business is that we can make that decision and sort it out quickly.”The product itself was developed with clean labels, quirky flavour profiles and carriers with international appeal in mind. Monty’s does plenty of its own market research and develops exclusive products for different clients. In November, Davidson launched new product ranges aimed at European tastes, including Italian chicken, Spanish tortilla, and dauphinoise and beef stroganoff in a pastry or yeast-free oblong carrier. “There are so many standard flavour profiles out there – especially vegetarian products – so we try to do something different, such as a bubble and squeak filling. That’s gone down a storm,” says Davidson, who joined the business having previously owned her own catering business.RETAIL TARGETWith the product and packaging nailed, the next move for the brand could be into retail. Monty’s was approached by a major convenience store chain on the back of the Awards exposure, and retail remains a real possibility in the frozen aisles. But Crane is not getting carried away.”As a small business, we have to be quite careful now: do we focus primarily on airlines or diversify into other areas? Our challenge is to stay very close to the bits that are working and maximise out where we’re winning before we spread ourselves too thinly.”I look at the frozen food aisle and how that’s changing. Frozen food shouldn’t just be dominated by own-label. There’s room for us in there in the fullness of time – a premium product using the right ingredients with recyclable packaging, a quick snack for mums to give kids. It’s just a question of when. So long as we can build the brand carefully, we will get there.”That’s the challenge, that’s the buzz. I don’t think any of us are very good at standing still.” n—-=== What winning the award meant to their business ===Matt: “Having the industry turn around and recognise you gives you huge credibility.”It enables us to move faster down the channels that are already working well for us. Other people have contacted us purely from having read about our award in the magazine. It’s a high-profile way of pulling in leads.”Jacqui: “When I made the announcement to our existing clients that we’d won, the encouragement and support that came back was really great.”
Pantheon has added a new ’ST’ toaster to its range. It is available as a four- or six-slot model and is made entirely from stainless steel. A five-minute timer and removable crumb tray are also included and there is the option of only using half the slots during quieter periods in order to save energy. Pantheon also offers a 12-month parts and labour warranty.Cost: £99[http://www.pantheonce.co.uk]
Combining Indian food with a traditional bakery offer is proving a hit with customers of Hurst Bakery & Provisions, based in Berkshire. Owned by brothers Jitu and Duras Miah, it produces bread, rolls, cakes, morning goods and sandwiches – but Indian food is also on the menu. The brothers bought the 78-year-old shop as a going concern in 2006 and wanted to offer something that other companies didn’t. The pair’s restaurant-owning background means they can serve up curries, naan bread and samosas to customers, which Jitu says is proving a success. Spicy food is also on the company’s new catering menu – launched in February – and already bringing in orders for work events and parties of up to 200 people at a time. “It’s an unusual bakery,” said Jitu, “but we’ve also tried to create a homely atmosphere.” He added that the pair had launched the catering side of the business after getting lots of enquiries from customers. “There’s definitely demand for the service and I’m confident that it will take off,” said Jitu.
Winner: MorrisonsLaceby, Grimsby, Lincs”A credit to the baking industry,” was how the judges described this ISB’s bakery manager Steven Mumby. They were particularly impressed with his on-shelf presentation and cited his excellent team as one of the reasons for his success.A baker for 25 years, Steven has been running his 13-strong department (which includes four qualified and one trainee baker) for five of those. Some 80% of products are made from scratch bread, buns and doughnuts with others, including croissants and Danish, baked off from frozen.The monthly-changing Baker’s Table showcases handmoulded breads, including the department’s single biggest-seller, Spelt & Rye. Baking throughout the day, the department turns over £13,000 a week, and Mumby credits his “supportive and quality” team for increasing sales and improving customer service. “Staff are doing internet research so they can tell customers about the products,” he says.Finalist: Sainsbury’sGambrel Road, NorthamptonBakery manager Robert Pither did his bakery apprenticeship with Sainsbury’s and was an ISB manager with them for 10 years before going to work for a bakery specialist. He arrived in his present department at Christmas last year. “First, I addressed quality issues, then availability and poorly performing areas,” he says. One such area was confectionery, where Robert’s ability to challenge the 23 staff and empower them to run their own department has resulted in rapid growth.Availability in the bakery has risen from 86.5% this time last year, to 95.2% today.Finalist: AsdaWolstanton Retail Park, Newcastle under LymeWhen bakery manager Claire Chadwick joined the Wolstanton store last year, she felt morale was low. “Some of our staff were stuck in a rut,” she says. “I asked them which areas they would like some training in and we took it from there.”Now, her 22-strong team, including five fully-trained bakers, pull together. Product knowledge and customer service are improved and weekly turnover has risen to £22,000.Up to 70% of products are scratch-made, including the white, brown and Granary loaves.Finalist: TescoCrieff Road, Perth, PerthshireStella White, bakery manager, took over her department just a year ago, after the 11-strong team had been without a manager for nearly five months. “The staff were very focused on the products,” she explains. “I needed to raise morale and get them looking after the customers.”Now, she says, her team, with five qualified bakers ensures good availability and customer service. The department turns over up to £15,000 a week. Loaves, including speciality breads, are made from scratch, while patisserie is supplied frozen and baked-off.
Love Joes has developed a new hot snack for schoolchildren a mini version of its pre-made wraps. The new Mini Wrappes are a hand-held snacking concept, marketed as an alternative to traditional breakfast, break-time or lunch snack options. They can be served hot from frozen in 18-20 minutes and are available in three varieties: All Day Breakfast bacon, egg, beans and potatoes in a sweet tomato sauce; Chicken Tikka Masala chicken pieces, potatoes and mixed vegetables in a spicy masala sauce; and Mexican Bean mixed beans, potatoes and cheese in a hot smokey barbecue sauce.Mini Wrappes are available in boxes of 40.
DSM Food Specialities has launched Panamore Soft a new enzymatic solution designed to improve the shelf-life of bread. It contains a patent-protected blend of enzymes, and claims to help keep breads stay fresher for longer.The firm said that, in tests, the solution produced enhanced initial softness, better sliceability and longer shelf-life over time than maltogenic amylase.”Softness is a key factor in breads’ perceived freshness and manufacturers are now looking for alternative solutions that deliver additional softness,” commented Rossana Rodriguez, product manager for baking enzymes, DSM Food Specialties.Panamore Soft is targeted at bread applications where extended shelf-life is required, such as soft rolls and all-crumb rich breads, said DSM.