A GERMAN bakery has patented a Pope Benedict pretzel, in honour of the new head of the Catholic Church, the Bavarian Pope Benedict XVI. The special pretzel was invented by the Regensburg-based master baker, Georg Schindler and manufactured by German bakery company Backaldrin International.
Reading my paper the other day, the headline read “Third of over-50s having an affair”. That’s an awful lot of people and, as usual, I am not one of the in-group. This made me think of so many products that I read about and, when I try them, do not sell very well.Lines such as croissants and all those fancy breads have absolutely no volume with us. Could it be mainly in London and the home counties that they sell a lot? Or is the media just making a lot of noise trying to be trendy?Years ago, I started a dress fabric shop and ended up with a chain. We were making quite good money and I was in a trade which I knew very little about, but was keen to learn. As we became quite a reasonable size in the trade, we got to know more people who we presumed were very knowledgeable.Some of the buyers for the large London department stores used to hire a small plane to fly to Germany for a major show and they asked me to join them. Well, I listened to all their talk about what was in and what was out for the coming season and I felt that I was a real country hick. So I supposed they must be right and I should take their advice.This I did, but the only trouble was that while my shops were stocked with the very latest fashion fabrics, my profits and sales were not doing very well. This naturally gave me great concern, as I had become very attached to my standard of living, and the children kept wanting food.My ego was getting well massaged by mixing with these important people, and posh ladies would come into my shops and tell me how wonderful it was to see such up-to-date fabrics in their town. Then it dawned on me that these people were talking a lot, but not spending a lot.In those far-off days, the majority of people made dresses to save money and they were the ones that spent money on fabric. The fashion-conscious women were very few and far between and you didn’t make money out of them. So you could say this was a perfect example of not knowing our market. This also applies to our bakery shops, which make what our customers want and buy – not simply what we like to make.Reverting back to the fabric days, some time later I was telling this story to the then managing director of Debenhams. He laughed and said: “Never take any notice of my London buyers; they only have to buy a design in every colour and they are bound to sell it with the volume of foot traffic we have. They would never make it in a small shop; many of them try and most fail.”This might be the case with all these bakery products we cannot sell; maybe it is only in London that they sell and London is not truly representative of our country. So we shall carry on asking advice from Waterfields and all the other successful bakers who are so generous in passing on their knowledge. Now that my MD, Neville, has the privilege of being a member of the British Confectioners’ Association, it is like opening Pandora’s box – there is so much information generously given. n
Growth plans for Greggs, the UK’s biggest bakery retailer, are still on track, despite taking a hit on profits due to cost increases and a withdrawal from Belgium, CEO Ken McMeikan revealed to British Baker. The firm has budgeted for marginal like-for-like sales growth in 2009, after announcing a 7.2% fall in operating profit in its full-year results.Despite a rise in year-on-year sales of 7.1% to £628m, including a like-for-like increase of 4.4%, “substantial increases” in energy and ingre-dients costs in the 52 weeks to 27 December 2008, as well as the cost of pulling its 10 shops in Belgium, contributed to the loss“The results are incredibly resilient in the current climate and in line with our expectations,” McMeikan said. “The fact we took decisions last year not to pass extra costs on to our customers was reflected in the continued like-for-like growth last year and into the start of this year.”Chairman Derek Netherton said it had been “a challenging year for Greggs”, but that it was still planning accelerated growth in 2010, as well as streamlining the business.Currently only 30% of Greggs’ products are standard across all its stores but McMeikan aims to increase this to 80% by the end of the year, with the remaining 20% to consist of regional favourites. “We have a dedicated team looking at the products in each of our 10 divisions,” said McMeikan.“We are currently trialling ideas for the 80% national range in 25 of our shops across the UK. By the end of 2009 we will have considered what the range should be, trialled it and then rolled it out.”
We have had the usual newspaper correspondence regarding the hardships entailed by the journeyman bakers in making Hot Cross Buns, and we have even had a number of employers declaring publicly that it does not pay to make them, and that when the additional cost for overtime and the general upsetting of the business are taken into account, they would prefer to see Hot Cross Buns entirely abolished. In a town in Hampshire, which contains six master bakers, they entered into an agreement not to make Hot Cross Buns at all, as the amount of overtime involved compelled all hands to work incessantly for 24 hours. Yet the argument appears to us to be a little inconsequential. A custom can scarcely be considered to be dying out if it involves overtime to the extent of 24 hours. We have no sympathy at all with the cry, either inside or outside the trade, for the abolition of the Hot Cross Bun.
Don’t forget to send in your entries for The In-Store Bakery Award for the chance to shine at this year’s Baking Industry Awards. The deadline is 1 June, so don’t delay, get your forms in now. To download entry forms visit bakeryawards.co.uk or contact Helen Law on 01293 846587 or email [email protected]== Wholegrain for BB’s ==BB’s Coffee and Muffins has been working with suppliers to develop a range of four whole-grain muffins, now working their way into stores, retail and brands director, Michelle Young told British Baker. It has also been working on a range of traybakes.== Flapjack first ==Simply Northumbrian – a new handmade flapjack company set up by former chef Mark Peacock – will exhibit at the Speciality Food Show in Harrogate for the first time. It is seeking to target foodservice operators with flapjacks in flavours such as date and walnut, and cherry and almond.== Greggs’ response ==In response to an article in 8 May issue of BB – ’Craft baker embraces new technology to boost sales’ – Greggs has responded to comments about its Regent Street outlet selling sausage rolls outside Winnie’s Bakery. “Any promotional activity was part of a broader Greggs initiative and was not specific to that shop.”== ISB deadline nears ==== Rondo brand ==Rondo Doge has asked us to point out that the two words of its existing brand ROndo aNd DOge will merge (rather than dropping ’Doge’, BB 8 May). This is to create a strong new ’Rondo’ brand which will stand for “maximum performance in sheeting and shaping dough from artisanal bakeries all the way to industrial production”.
The Real Bread Campaign has announced it will be organising the first ever National Real Bread Maker Week from 1-9 May, to encourage people to re-engage with home baking and to dust off one of the nation’s most neglected kitchen appliances.Chris Young, organiser of the campaign, which is backed by the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food programme, said: “Dusting off and plugging in your bread machine allows you to seize control of your daily bread, freeing you from reliance on factory loaves.”The National Real Bread Maker Week website will be launched in March for people to view and share bread machine recipes, tips and photos with the chance to win a VIP pass to The Real Food Festival on 8 May. Also, a big bake-off will be judged by an expert panel of master bakers and celebrity chefs. The campaign is set to take place a week prior to the Real Food Festival in Earl’s Court, London, on 10 May. “Baking Real Bread in a machine with flour from an independent mill is a great way of supporting Britain’s real food producers and knowing what your family is eating while keeping an eye on your budget,” said festival organiser Philip Lowery.Meanwhile, as part of National Mills Weekend 8-9 May, traditional wind and water mills around the country will be inviting visitors to picnics, classes, competitions and other activities to help get the best out of locally milled flour bread machine loaves.
West Cornwall Pasty Co (WCPC) has come a long way since it was founded in 1998 about 150 miles to be precise, as it’s now based in Oxford. And the concept of Cornishness has been propelled further still, on a journey via the Caribbean towards the edges of reason, with the launch of a Reggae Reggae pasty, in association with Reggae Reggae sauce founder Levi Roots, last week.This offbeat offering typifies the jaunty spirit, underlined by street-wise business brains, that has fuelled WCPC’s emergence as one of the fastest growers on the BB75 league table of bakery retailers (British Baker, 15 January). It grew its estate by nearly a quarter in 2009, from 57 to 70 outlets, with three more opening since no mean achievement in the current climate.An eye-catching tweak is never far from its 20-strong pasty menu, and actually, there’s no questioning its Cornish credentials; pasties are supplied by serial Baking Industry Award-winner WC Rowe, based in Penryn, and plenty of products, from the jam to the scones in its cream tea, launched last summer, are sourced from the county.In 2007, current chief executive Richard Nieto led a reported £40m buyout of the chain, backed by Gresham Private Equity, with founders the Cocker family and Mark Christophers exiting. The funding was then in place to add 50 outlets to its 42-store total, and a potential target of 300 stores has already been mooted.”There is that potential, but we’ll just take 20 at a time, thanks!” says Nieto. “The important thing is getting the right ones open and making sure we employ the right people.”So what’s behind the positive attitude, when other businesses are sitting tight on store openings? “It’s the scale of the opportunity,” he says. “[In 2007] we saw a great traditional product that was only available in 42 places 18 of which were in London. We’ve got a very successful business, but an awful lot of towns don’t have a West Cornwall Pasty Co, and that’s the opportunity.”To minimise the identikit chain look, the stores are furnished with Cornish memorabilia and feature murals depicting scenes from traditional Cornish life, fronted by a striking black and gold logo. “What we’re trying to do is create a national brand that isn’t a replica of itself,” says Nieto. On the balcony of the store in Cambridge, there’s a fisherman leaning over into the market square; in Chester, there’s a 6ft pirate in the window. “We paint them differently, we put memorabilia and Cornish heritage in them surfing, pirates, tin mines so every shop is slightly different.”The priority is opening in railway stations and high streets. “That’s where the volume is,” states Nieto. One tweak in the strategy is a refit programme involving more seating space to appeal to families, with kids’ playboxes introduced with crayons and games and a sausage-and-beans pasty for the kids. Opening hours vary from store to store, with some travel locations open from 6am until 2am the next morning.”There’s an awful lot of competition,” he says. “We’re competing with everybody who wants to sell a breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack. Some days people want a sandwich, other days they want a burger – we want to be one of their choices. We’ve got a lot of custo-mers who have breakfast with us every day, and a lot who will have a pasty two-to-three times a week.”Stores had been confined to south-east and south-west England, but the distribution centre in Oxford, close to the M40, is poised for a break northwards. Stores recently opened in Solihull, Shrewsbury, Liverpool and York, with two more planned for the latter in the coming months. Despite the challenge of finding old-style buildings in prime locations, as befits its strategy, Nieto says others’ misfortune has led to better availability of properties.”We tend to operate at heritage buildings in traditional British market towns or cities,” he explains. “We do well in tourist locations, such as Cambridge or Canterbury, Bath or Salisbury. There are just as many places like that in the north as there are in the south, and we have a very successful store in Chester. It’s just about picking the right opportunities, fitting it out at a sensible cost and using as much information and evidence as you can get to help you with the decision-making process.”With 20 shops opening a year, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be eating Cornish cream teas in Carlisle.
Q You are suspicious that an employee is up to no good and are thinking about installing hidden CCTV cameras to catch them red-handed. Is there anything you must consider first?A Occasionally, you may get a hunch that an employee is up to mischief for example, you might suspect they are stealing from the petty cash or taking drugs in the toilets. Of course, you can intervene, but you would have a much stronger hand if you had hard evidence to back up your beliefs. CCTV footage showing the culprit in the act would be ideal. But is it as simple as rigging up hidden cameras out of hours?The use of CCTV cameras is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and its accompanying CCTV Code of Practice (the Code). Unlike the DPA, the Code is voluntary, but the Information Commissioner (IC) will want to know if you have followed it, should an employee complain about your use of CCTV.The Code says hidden CCTV cameras must not be used purely to obtain evidence for run-of-the-mill internal disciplinary matters. They are only justifiable where you suspect that a specific crime for example theft is being committed and you intend to involve the police.Even if these conditions are met, you will still need to carry out an “impact assessment”. This will help you decide if resorting to CCTV is a “proportionate response” to the perceived problem, or a potential breach of privacy. If it’s not clear-cut, then a less intrusive alternative should be found.Details on how to carry out an impact assessment can be found in Part 4 of the Code. For example, it says you must consider if hidden CCTV cameras will:1. be used only for this particular investigation that is, they cannot be used to generally monitor staff2. have a detrimental effect on staff who are not under suspicion3. actually identify the culprits in other words, could this be done through other means?4. add any weight to the investigation is the recording vital to establish wrongdoing?The number and placement of any hidden cameras should be proportionate to the type of investigation. Plus, you must limit access to the footage to as few employees as possible and must be able to justify who has it for example a manager and why.Keep records of your impact assessment in case your decision to use hidden CCTV cameras is ever challenged by staff.Finally, and understandably, the most contentious use of hidden CCTV cameras is in toilet areas. According to the Code, this can only be justified if you have reasonable grounds to believe a crime is being committed there for example drug dealing and police involvement is a certainty.Ensure hidden cameras in toilet areas do not cover cubicles or urinals, even partially. This would be an unlawful invasion of privacy and risks a complaint to the IC.
British Baker is delighted to announce all 31 finalists for the Baking Industry Awards 2011.The Brazilian carnival-themed black-tie event will take place at the Park Lane Hilton on Wednesday 7 September, and will be hosted by TV presenter Richard Madeley.Commenting on the entries for Baker of the Year, sponsor Vandemoortele’s Stephen Bickmore, UK commercial manager of the firm’s lipids division, said the numbers were up on last year, and the quality, this year, was one of the best they had had.”This was borne out by the calibre of all three of the finalists,” he said. “In fact, four of the six bakers that got through to round two could have made the final, but we had to narrow it down to three.”David Powell, sponsor of The Rising Star Award said he was very encouraged for the future by the quantity and quality of entries. “There are some very talented people coming through to help shape and lead our industry. I was amazed at how many of the entrants had either already started their own businesses or were working towards that goal and showed a strong entrepreneurial spirit.”British Baker editor Sylvia Macdonald, who helped judge a number of the categories, said that the quality of entries this year had been excellent. “Some of those shortlisted, who did not make the final three, were so close; sometimes, it was just half a point difference.”Overall, the quality of businesses that entered makes you so proud to be part of the trade. The sponsors were very fair and impartial, seeking to raise stan-dards and reward excellence. There are some great businesses in the finals. And many more out there who should try again.”Tables at the event are selling fast, so to be in with a chance of attending the Awards, please contact Elizabeth Ellis on 01293 846593 or email [email protected] To find out more about the awards, please visit www.bakeryawards.co.uk.The finalists:Baker of the YearRobert Ditty, Ditty’s, Castledawson;David Smart, Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakery; Christopher Freeman, Dunn’s BakeryCelebration Cake Maker of the YearTerry Tang, Terry Tang Designer Cakes; Caroline Occleston, The Cake Shop Liverpool; Andrea Campbell Jackson, Shuga BudzThe Customer Focus AwardMontys Bakehouse; Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakery; The Fabulous Bakin’ BoysConfectioner of the YearLisa Boyles, Cooplands; Chris Bachmann, Bachmanns; Ruth Hinks, Cocoa BlackThe Craft Business AwardBarbakan Delicatessen; Dumouchel; Gerrards ConfectionersThe Innovation AwardWarburtons Sandwich Thins; Bachmanns Chocolate Christmas Pudding; Puratos Puravita BreakfastBakery Supplier of the YearUnifine Food & Bake Ingredients; Higgidy; The Bread FactorySpeciality Bread Product of the YearGreenhalgh’s Craft Bakery Sweet Caribbean Brioche Nanterre; The Thoughtful Bread Company The Slow Grana Padano Bread; Bachmanns – Rosemary and Raisin LoafIn-Store Bakery of the YearAsda, Nuneaton; Morrisons, Canterbury; Sainsbury’s, Cambridge; Asda, BristolRising StarCraig Wright, Arthur Chatwin; Mellissa Morgan, Ms Cupcake; James Walton, Dough 2 b Different
The Food & Drink Federation (FDF) is to hold a series of job workshops as part of its pledge to double the number of apprenticeships to 3,400 by the end of 2012.During 2012, FDF will be working with its key partners – the National Apprenticeship Service and the National Skills Academy for food and drink – to run events across the UK, including the West Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire.Its first event will be held at the William Reed-organised Food and Drink Expo at the NEC Birmingham on the afternoon of Monday 26 March.Speakers will be on hand from the National Apprenticeship Service and the National Skills Academy for food and drink, who will give food manufacturers advice on how to get the most from apprenticeships. Representatives from food manufacturers will be sharing their experiences, as well as apprentices themselves, who will give the lowdown on their new careers.Angela Coleshill, FDF’s director of competitiveness, said: “There is certainly an appetite for investment in skills, which is why FDF members are taking collective action to help us build a pool of talented apprentices that can be developed and deployed across the industry – building skills for the future.“There is still work to be done to communicate to young people the wide variety of exciting roles on offer in the food industry, many of which are highlighted through some inspiring case studies on our website.”A spokesperson from the National Apprenticeship Service added: “The National Apprenticeship Service is pleased to be working with FDF and its members to create high-quality apprenticeships within the food manufacturing industry. Apprenticeships are a proven way to develop well-trained staff, who are motivated, loyal and will grow with the business.”Justine Fosh, director at the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink welcomed the initiative because, “In the past apprenticeships have been seen as mainly relevant to engineering roles, but this is simply not the case now.”She added: “As specialists in food industry training, and as part of Improve – the organisation that designs apprenticeships for our industry – we can assist any food business interested in apprenticeship activity. We are offering all FDF members, as part of the pledge, a personal visit and free one-to-one advice sessions to help them get started or expand their apprenticeship activity.”