The cost of utilities such as energy and fuel, and their potential impact upon pricing, will be the key challenge for our supply base and ourselves in the year ahead. This has only begun to emerge as a major issue over the past few months but will inevitably snowball.Other challenges will include decision-making in relation to the amount of shelf-space given to functional foods and other products marketed as healthy, both ‘soft’ health (such as wholegrain and organic) and ‘hard’ health products (fortified goods, such as Omega 3).We will be re-launching own-brand morning goods in the New Year, focusing upon health and clean ingredients labels. We will also focus on convenience. For example, we are looking at single-packed items that can be put into a lunchbox and re-sealable products. We’re trying to adapt to how people are living, and the rising number of single-occupied homes will obviously have an impact on how people eat.Pre-packed cakes will be an interesting area, as the market continues to polarise between ‘cheapest on display’ products and, at the other end of the market, an emphasis upon ‘better’ ingredients such as free-range eggs and the removal of hydrogenated vegetable oils. Consumers are looking closely at food labels now and they’re looking beyond fat and sugar.Interest in speciality breads continues. We’ve seen the La Brea bread brand come into the market last year – that’s been interesting and it’s driving premiumisation. Currently, Waitrose has offered a speciality range, where representation of Anglicised ranges such as Cranks and Duchy Originals has been high and this has worked well for us. Now, there is room to move further into Mediterranean breads, developing both continental and British traditional areas because we have customers to which both appeal.
Lathams craft bakery in Southport, Lancashire, has been involved in National Doughnut Week, which this year runs from May 6 to 13, since the outset. Here, Chris Latham describes what his bakery gets up to during the week in order to raise money for The Children’s Trust charity – and drum up business in its four shops.“National Doughnut Week is always great fun and we never fail to see a huge boost in sales, both of doughnuts and other products. We always try to come up with a new and different doughnut every year – a limited-edition doughnut if you like – to sell during the week. “Last year, we created new varieties with chocolate and orange, rhubarb and custard, and toffee and apple – which proved to be huge sellers.“It was particularly rewarding to see all our staff getting so involved. Everyone would ask every single customer to buy a doughnut for charity – and the response was overwhelming. “The Children’s Trust is such a deserving cause – and it’s great for UK bakers to be able to help local children throughout the UK and really make a difference to their lives.Lathams was founded in 1967 and has remained a family business. The company now employs 50 staff across four bakery shops in Southport, Lancashire. • Top tip: Contact your local newspaper, tell them the dates of National Doughnut Week, what you are planning to do and emphasise that it is a fundraising event. Invite a journalist and photo-grapher along.• It’s not too late! To register for National Doughnut week, email Christopher Freeman now at Dunns Bakery on [email protected] or call 020 8340 1614 or 07776 480032.LOOK WHO’S REGISTERED!– A&E White bakers, Barnsley, Yorkshire– Stephen’s bakery, Dumferline, Fife– Argo’s Bakery, Stromness, Orkney– Victoria Bakery, Barnet, Herts– WC Rowe, Falmouth, Cornwall– P&A Davies, Chester, Cheshire
Charities in the UK and abroad, including Cancer Research and Macmillan Nurses, have benefited from a generous donation made by Walton-on-Thames bakery owner Bill Heffernan in memory of his wife, Anne, who died from the disease in January this year, aged 61.Bill has expressed his sincere thanks to all friends and associates in the baking trade who helped to raise £4,000 for the charities, with over £1,000 contributed by the Kingston Master Bakers Association at their annual dinner dance. Anne Heffernan was a former chairman of the association.Bakery builderOriginally from Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland, Anne Heffernan had run Lee’s Bakery with her husband since 1971, subsequently expanding to Addlestone, Lalham, Hersham, Weybridge and West Byfleet. The mother of five sons, Anne was a staunch Catholic, writing for Catholic Life magazine and supporting initiatives such as the Keep Sunday Special campaign of 1993, which saw Sunday trading in large stores restricted to six hours. She was also a prominent member of the business community in Surrey, winning a 1992 award for ‘excellence in people development’ and was active in the Surrey Training and Enterprise North-East Forum. She completed a course of instruction to help young people on the YTS scheme and achieved her personal ambition of gaining a Master’s degree in business administration.Anne worked tirelessly for community and charity, helping to raise £5,000 for Hope Romania, aiding orphans in straitened circumstances in the country. As former chairman of the Kingston Master Baker’s Association, she raised £1,000 for the British Heart Foundation in 1995. The expanding bakery business achieved its own successes in 1996 when Lee’s was named as Britain’s champion all-round bakery.Overwhelming supportAnne Heffernan was diagnosed with cancer of the colon two years ago and was treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton. She died at her family home in Weybridge on January 11. Several hundred people gathered at her funeral service on January 24 to pay tribute, with an eulogy given by NA past president Tony Cavan. Bill and his family gave heartfelt thanks to Tony for the eulogy and expressed how overwhelmed they were by the support shown by the bakery trade through the attendance at the funeral, the letters of condolence and the money raised in support of charity.
Sandwich chain Pret A Manger plans to open at least 25 new sites around the UK by the end of the year and overhaul 85 of its 155 existing sites.Commercial director Simon Hargraves told British Baker that the company plans to open in locations including Southampton and Cheshire Oaks. Around 10 new outlets will be outside the M25 and a further 15 inside.The chain already has shops in cities including Edinburgh, Newcastle, Birmingham and Bath and will expand at the rate of 15-25% of its base every year in future, Hargraves said.Meanwhile, 85 shops are to be refurbished this year “to a greater or lesser extent”, as Pret A Manger softens its “harsh red and silver look, used during the 1990s”, Hargraves said.Changes will include more space dedicated to seating, larger seats and even carpeted areas. Customers will be encouraged to linger if they wish to.”But we are never going to be a Costa Coffee or a Starbucks,” Hargraves emphasised.He added that Pret had now moved to Fairtrade coffee across all its stores and was already completely air miles-free as it built its sustainability credentials.It launched 130 new products last year, he added. A range of hot food and wraps was performing “extremely well”.
BP’s Wild Bean Café has opened its first stand alone outlet at Portsmouth’s Continental Ferry Port in Hampshire. Wild Bean, which sells ‘gourmet on the go’ food products, has been situated at BP filling stations for the last seven years; this move signals a natural progression for the company. The new outlet, which opened on 9 July, will be operated by food and facilities management company, ARAMARK, which operates all catering for the port. “We are very excited about opening the UK’s first stand alone Wild Bean Café, after the brand’s spectacular growth over the last seven years,” said Karen Hubbard, BP’s UK convenience retail director.“Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port is the ideal location to launch this exciting new era for Wild Bean Café, with many car and vehicle drivers who are already familiar with the brand.”Wild Bean Café was introduced to BP sites in 2001, and is now present at more than 200 BP petrol stations in England and Scotland, selling hot and cold baguettes, salads and pastries.
Pupils from Manchester High School for Girls used their loaf in an Apprentice-style lesson with a difference at Cheshire’s Frank Roberts & Sons bakery.Forty-two students from the school in Grangethorpe Road, Manchester, had to barter with bosses at Frank Roberts & Sons bakery in Northwich, Cheshire, to pay bargain prices for ingredients to decorate gingerbread biscuits and then “sell” the products for the best possible price.The visit was organised by former chairman of the Frank Roberts bakery, David Roberts, who takes a keen interest in promoting the family business, established in 1887. Roberts later gave the schoolchildren a brief history of the company, a leading supplier of quality bread and novelty gingerbread biscuits.Roberts said: “It’s great to be involved in school projects, which are not just educational but a lot of fun as well.”
More than a third of Quiznos’ sandwich shops in the UK have closed in the past year, due to the current financial crisis, leaving the company a long way short of its ambitious plan to open 200 franchise stores.According to British Baker’s Top 50 Bakery Retailers poll, the US franchise chain, which sells made-to-order ’sub’ sandwiches, had 29 outlets in the UK in January, but only 17 are currently listed on the Quiznos website. A spokeswoman for the company confirmed that there had been store closures. “A lot of it is due to the financial crisis,” she said. “There is an internal strategy that we are putting in place to address the current situation.”In 2007, Quiznos had outlined plans to open around 200 franchised stores across the UK by 2012. The company said that it was looking to open stores in prime locations on the high street.Set up in 1981 in Denver, Quiznos has over 5,000 franchised stores in the US, as well as operations in 20 other countries. The UK business was started in 2001 by father-and-son team Kazem and Michael Najafi.Rival sub sandwich chain Subway plans to reach 2,010 outlets by the year 2010. It currently has over 1,200 stores in the UK.
Despite the fact that the founders of The Village Bakery in Coedpoeth, North Wales, came from a plant background, the business was founded on craft ideals and principles. These have always been important to the company and no doubt played their part in the company scooping the Rank Hovis-sponsored Craft Business Award at last years’ Baking Industry Awards.Established in 1964 by joint managing director Tim Jones’ father and grandfather, the business has grown from a small two-man outfit to a successful wholesale business, employing around 210 staff. It also has five retail shops based around Wrexham, though this is not the business’ main focus; Jones says it is currently an 80% wholesale/20% retail split.The bakery’s largest customers are Somerfield, The Co-operative, Londis and, more recently, Marks & Spencer. On the wholesale side, it mainly distributes to businesses within a 50-mile radius of Wrexham, but it also supplies bespoke products across the UK. For example, its Welsh Cakes are delivered to M&S nationwide and it recently had an order for 50,000 packs of them for St David’s Day.Initially, the bakery produced bread, cakes and savouries, but after a couple of years, it was decided to concentrate solely on bread. In 1988, an opportunity for savouries opened up and the company bought a small unit on Wrexham industrial estate, producing around 250 pies a week. It now produces more savouries (60%) than breads.The company moved to its Minera site in 1992. “It was a greenfield site, so we decided to build a new premises. In theory it was supposed to serve all purposes, but we have actually extended twice since then,” says Jones. Also in the early 1990s, the company made its first move into retail. The last major extension to the Minera site was in 2001, which saw the addition of a new training facility, production suite and freezer unit, as well as an extension to its savoury department.The bakery, now run by joint MDs and brothers Tim and Robin Jones, produces breads, savouries and morning goods, from rye bread to pasties and Welsh Cakes. One of its most successful products is its Welsh Oggie – a much larger version of the Cornish pasty. It is filled with layers of potatoes, onions, leeks and beef and weighs over 500g. These are not just popular in Wales – the firm sold around 15,000 of them at last year’s Glastonbury Festival.”The real growth over the last six or seven years has been in the savoury department, especially with their inclusion at garage forecourts for example,” explains Jones. “There are so many more people actually baking-off these days, that the vast majority of growth is in frozen unbaked goods.”Jones also points to the growing popularity of sliced bread. He says that, over the last few years, whenever the business launches a new loaf, they always launch it sliced, as they have noticed that when they decided to sell existing breads in a sliced format, sales have gone through the roof. “If you can get that same quality, but sliced for convenience, then you’re laughing,” he says.Five for luckEntering the awards is becoming something of a five-yearly ritual for The Village Bakery, having entered and been winners in 1998, 2003 and 2008. “We’d had some successes and a good year with regards to new business,” says Jones of the year leading up to the application in 2008. “We’d also set up a new gluten-free production facility on Wrexham industrial estate – so we thought it put us in with a good chance.”Jones says he was “absolutely over the moon” when it was announced they had won. “It was a genuine surprise, as the competition was so good.” The award, he says, has certainly been a great tool when speaking to new customers and has given the firm a lot of confidence. “It has also been very good for the staff. They have all enjoyed the fact that we won, and it’s a great reward for them.”Speaking about why it won, Jones says the judges were impressed with the fact that the company had done so much during the year, in terms of developing the gluten-free business and on the marketing side, as well as regarding the general standard of its products. “We are great believers in provenance and try to source our ingredients locally, wherever possible,” says Jones. “It has served us very well over the years, and we’ve also had quite a bit of aid through the Welsh Assembly. So wherever we can support locally, we always do. Of course there’s a premium for that price-wise, but it’s worth paying.” Polish connectionsDespite sourcing locally, The Village Bakery doesn’t only take inspiration from all things Welsh. Wrexham has a Polish population of around 5,000, 30 of whom are employed at The Village Bakery. Jones says there are now even Polish signs around Whitchurch in Wrexham.The high proportion of Polish residents has meant that The Village Bakery isn’t just making traditional Welsh products, but traditional Polish products too. It launched a 400g Polish rye loaf, containing 50% rye and 50% white flour, which became its fastest growing product. It started producing around 300-400 a week, but in no time at all, demand pushed production up ten-fold.Since winning the award, the business has also struck a deal to supply a number of Tesco stores. “We’ve got a listing for nine products for 11 stores (in Wales), which is about to go live any week now.” Looking to the future, Jones says he’d like to think the business will do more business with M&S, as well as with other larger chains. But there are no plans for national domination just yet. “We’d still like to grow, but we’d like slow organic growth,” he says.—-=== What winning means to us ===”It’s great sense of satisfaction and we’re very proud to win it. At the end of the day, it’s nice to be recognised for your efforts. I really believe it’s very beneficial for all the employees and it does help install a sense of pride in the business. It was a brilliant evening.”- Tim Jones, joint MD—-=== Did you know? ===While working as a maintenance engineer at The Village Bakery, former triathlete and Iron Man, Peter Norman, came up with the idea of giving all competitors in the Wrexham Half Marathon Welsh Bara Brith instead of medals. Bara Brith is a fruit bread, produced by The Village Bakery, which sponsors the Half Marathon, and has been made to the same recipe for over 30 years.
== Cooplands’ donation ==Cooplands of Doncaster has been inspired to raise money for The Children’s Hospital in Sheffield by five-year-old Grace Sellers, granddaughter of Cooplands’ sales administrator Helen Hulme. Grace is being treated for kidney cancer at the hospital. Cooplands has already raised over £3,000 and the money will be invested in specialist medical equipment.== First for M&S ==Marks & Spencer has launched its first-ever range of cupcakes. The M&S bakery team undertook “extensive tasting” in New York in order to ’de-code’ the cupcakes and reformulate for the UK market. M&S will also introduce two cupcakes with fresh cream frosting in May. The cupcakes are manufactured and supplied by Blueberry Foods, a Samworth Brothers company.== Colleague support ==A survey by independent campaign Keep Britain Working, has revealed that 94% of workers in retail or sales roles would accept changes to their working conditions to help colleagues keep their jobs. It also showed 24% would accept a cut in pay and 44% would accept a reduction in hours.== Queen’s Award ==William Jackson’s Bakery, in Kingston Upon Hull is among the 194 winners of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2009, triumphing in the English sandwich breads category, for success in International Trade.== Raisins in view ==California Raisins has won a battle with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Ofcom over whether raisins are suitable to advertise to children. Raisins now pass the nutrient profile set out by the FSA, and are approved under the guidelines for advertising to children on TV.
l Conference report From farmers to hoteliers to chip shop owners to bakers, two eccentric entrepreneurs have the SAMB conference in the palms of their handsl Hot savouries We speak to suppliers to find out what’s hot and what’s not in food-to-go pastriesl Plant packaging The latest on packaging and sealing breakthroughs used by the likes of naan bread giant Honeytop Breads