Some 25 LASER members attended its Annual General Meeting on March 6, in Bakers Hall, London. Chris Beaney, a third-generation Master Baker who runs a business in Strood in Kent, started his year’s office as LASER president at the meeting. He aims to encourage membership of the National Association of Master Bakers and to attend as many functions as possible to promote the baking industry. Pictured left to right are: Diane and Colin Fulcher, (NA president), Jenny and Chris Beaney (incoming LASER presi-dent), Giles Grout (retiring LASER president), Sheila Grout, and The Master of the Worshipful Company of Bakers’ Alan Willis, prior to a dinner with the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Heads of the Armed Services.
This week, for a change, I thought why not write about business and make our editor Sylvia happy? There will be no mention of incompetent, lying, corrupt politicians, or even public-sector employee pension schemes. Instead, I’ll focus on how we should all be more efficient to keep the above in the standard of living they have at our expense.Always, when I write or speak about reducing or controlling costs, someone will confuse it with either reducing quality – which is never what I mean – or come up with that hoary old chestnut: “You can’t cut your way to success.”Even in British Baker, I read that Greggs announced its profits were down and, while it is driving for growth, it is also taking action to reduce costs. After all, assuming it is constantly monitoring its costs and yet still finds it necessary to review them, why should we think that we are so efficient that we do not have to bother?I can never see the point in expanding sales without a commensurate increase in profits. How often have we seen a fellow baker expand from, say, three shops to eight, and the next sad thing we read about is their demise?There are often two main reasons why they fail: lack of control of costs and lack of adequate control systems. When you run a maximum of three shops, for example, you can keep most of what you need to know in your head – although even that I find risky. When the total number of shops gets larger, systems are not a luxury, they are a necessity. So many bakers say: “Oh I cannot be bothered with all that paperwork.” But the only answer is that, unless you’re a genius, you had better bother with it or you will simply not survive.Our Scottish bakery friends appear to have mastered that and they keep going from strength to strength. They put in systems to watch over and control their growth.The only danger is that, with the ability of computers to spew out paper endlessly, you’ll get too much information, most of which you cannot use. So I will list what financial elements I think are absolutely necessary to examine every week: bank balance, total creditors, debtors and sales.With those four figures, you will always know where you are. After that, you can add on whatever other data you think you need and, every year, cull out whatever you have not really used. Next, there are the figures I think I need, such as accurate production figures, to tell me how much per man hour was produced, the level of wage percentage, waste and the monthly stocktaking.Last, but not least, I look at the wage percentage of every department of the business in detail to allow me to make accurate comparisons. Of course, there are other data that we keep, but space has run out and each bakery owner has to decide for him- or herself what they require.Just think about it. If you work like the dickens to be rich, you will then be able to afford to sit on the veranda of an expensive care home, watching the healthy, but poor, people walk by.
Warings celebrated its 75th birthday at the tail end of 2007. And this Reading-based bakery went one better than a 75-candle cake – it treated itself to a birthday gift by splashing out nearly £75k on overhauling one of its five shops.Over the last five years, two of Warings’ five outlets had gone under the knife. But two decades had passed since this location in Tilehurst was last spruced up. With a major bit of nip-and-tuck needed, the brief was to retain a traditional bakery feel, but with modern presentation, and reflect the bakery’s core values; Warings has a small team of bakers that produce by hand from a central bakery, supplying only their own retail outlets.”We like to be unique and keep our products for our shops,” says Daniel Carr, learning and development manager, who oversees the 65 staff. “Our bread hasn’t changed a lot since it was originally made – it’s all about being fresh, made today to eat today, with no preservatives or additives. It’s a good old-fashioned loaf of bread.”Carr says the management set itself a budget at £70,000, which involved closing the shop for eight days and stripping the floors, the walls and the ceiling back to the bone. They then re-imagined a fresh layout, shifting the takeaway from the back of the shop to the front. Crucially, it reduced the amount of counter space by half in order to give the appearance of being full all day, and restocking little and often.”When we last fitted, the idea was to have as much counter space as possible and get everything out in the morning; we ran with that for many years. The shops looked fantastic… but only up until about 11am. As soon as the lunchtime trade hit, there was too much space to fill.”We will now have our warrior lines on shelf until the end of day, so it will always appear to be stocked, even if we’ve only got half an hour of trading left. It never looks empty, which is what we found in the old shop.”New kit purchases included: a panini grill for on-the-go morning toasties; soup kettles for hot fresh soups, popular with office workers; and a £5,000 investment in a fresh ground coffee machine. The latter, a special offer from Bako London, came with barista training, signalling a step up from its previous Nescafé instant coffee machines and introducing an element of theatre in-store, says Carr.”If somebody’s ordering a coffee, the grinder’s going and you’ve got the smell and the aroma, the person behind them in the queue will say, ’Fantastic, I’ll have one of them!’ If they’re picking up hot coffee, they’ll maybe buy a bacon and cheese turnover on the move too. The firm used Bakeline on its last two refits and was pleased with the results. They seem to be in tune with what we want; they’ve got experience outside the UK. A lot of us now look for that Continental style.” Italians bring style to sweet pastry shop PLAN FOR OTHER STORESThe plan now is to fit the remaining two shops within two years. “It’s important to put money back into the business, says Carr. “Customers demand a good shopping experience. Not only that, but having a refit can make the whole process of food hygiene regulations – how to look after your unit and keep it clean – so much quicker and easier.” Located in Sarzana, a small but beautiful town close to La Spezia in Northern Italy, and tucked in a basement location of an historical building, is a pastry shop-cum ice cream parlour-cum chocolate emporium, with a few modern twists on shop design.There is a glitzy grotto-like ambience in this emporium, which specialises in cakes, cookies and jams, made with natural ingredients, all created by store owners Daniele and Cristina Marselli. Situated off a pedestrianised zone in the town, the bare brick arches make good use of an original feature of the building, which took a month to fit.The furniture mixes simple elements: the wooden counter; shelves made from glass and iroko wood; and a central area for showcasing products.Clever features include showing off hand-craft techniques to passers-by outside the shop via a video placed at the entrance. Inside, you can see the craftsmen at work first-hand, with glass windows giving a view straight through to the “laboratory”.The shop, which has two glass entrances (the trickiest elements of the fit, given the stone vaults), boasts an ice-cream counter on the left and a pastry counter to the right. In the centre is a chocolate showcase, made to resemble a precious jewellery shop window.And the shop’s name? A fusion of the owners’ daughters’ names – Giulia and Beatrice (Giu-Bea). Their names are further used to brand the cookies, which are presented in packaging made by Tub Design illustrated with original graphics and fuchsia and brown colours.Address: Via Cigala 28, 19038 Sarzana (SP) ItalyDesign and furniture: Costa Group
Alistair Darling revealed his plans for the UK economy in his first ever budget this week, but how will the baking industry be affected? See 21 March British Baker
Hoshizaki has introduced the super-compact DSM 12 ice dispenser, for use when only relatively low volume is required or when usage is occasional.The DSM can either be wall-hung or counter-top mounted and produces 13kg of thimble-shaped cubes every 24 hours.The model dispenses the required amount of fresh ice directly into a glass, so that it does not have to be touched by a scoop and air is not allowed to enter the machine, ensuring hygiene.According to Hoshizaki, the DSM is suitable for situations where iced drinks only account for a small percentage of sales.[http://www.hoshizaki.com]
Are your staff lethargic? Are they difficult to motivate? The solution is simple: wean them off the workplace booze and cheese binges.Hints to shop assistants: “To get good work out of anyone he must be properly fed. An assistant suffering from indigestion, due to heavy meat food, cheese, and ale, cannot properly attend to business. Assistants have told me again and again that they do not have the energy to attend properly to their duties, and many have asked what they shall do to get more vigour as they fear dismissal. Parents will do well to enquire into the food served at large places of business before sending their sons and daughters there, or they may cause them to acquire the beginnings of disease which result in chronic illness or death.”Next week: life and death
Bakery rise for RGFCThe Real Good Food Company, parent firm of Renshawnapier, announced “significantly improved operating performance” within its bakery and bakery ingredients divisions. However, total group sales were down by 1% to £215.6m for the year ended 31 December 2009. The firm’s bakery arm, Hayden’s, saw an overall sales increase of 15%, with double-digit growth achieved for all major customers including Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Costa Coffee.Northern strengthBakery and sandwiches were among the top three performing categories for Northern Foods, which announced group like-for-like sales up 1% on last year. In its interim statement for the 14 weeks to 3 April 2010, the firm said trading was strong within its Chilled division, with new sandwich business secured with Costa Coffee due to commence during the second quarter of the new financial year.Chocolate enticementWaitrose has launched Belgian chocolate chunk hot cross buns, made by Nicholas & Harris, as an alternative for children who do not like the dried fruit found in traditional products. The retailer expected to sell around nine million hot cross buns over the Easter period.PepsiCo’s health drivePepsiCo UK has announced a 10-year pledge to focus its future profit and growth on the sale of healthier products. Its first health report details its commitments, which include ’reshaping’ its savoury snack and soft drink categories, with 50% of its savoury snacks to be baked or include positive nutrition by 2015. The company also plans to make 65% of its carbonated soft drink can and bottle sales ’no sugar’ by 2015.
“Our expectations have a tremendous influence on how we taste things they give food a positive halo. Don’t take ’good enough’ as being the benchmark, it has to be ’good’”Dr Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, on why people will eat the last piece of stale chocolate cake even when they’re not hungry and it appears unappetising because expectations override our tastebuds, and how they should avoid temptation”Charlie Adams spotted in Greenhalgh’s in Wigan eating a Vanilla Slice celebrating something??”Tweet spotted on #BBCFootball; seven hours later, the cake-loving Blackpool midfielder’s rumoured move to either Liverpool or Tottenham collapsed. Coincidence or not?l Make sure you follow BB on Twitter @BritishBaker and @CupcakeWeek”Someone googles ’job in London to take a strawberry’ to get to my blog. What does that even mean!?”@Cupcake_Kelly tracks her website traffic and tweets about the baffling ways people arrive at her blog
In her book Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, the anthropologist author Kate Fox talks of the “white bread” British, with our culture of reserve. “We are the most repressed and inhibited people on earth,” she argues.That book was written back in 2004, so have things moved on since then? Have Brits abandoned the white bread for something a little more daring? Well, sales of ethnic ’world’ foods continue to rise: they were up 3.3% to £1,367m in 2010 (Key Note). And within that market, foreign breads such as tortillas, bagels and naan play an important role. Yet caution remains the watchword with the shopping public.Tortilla-style wraps are the fastest-growing sector in “sandwich alternative breads”, with overall sales up 16.9% to £80.2m (Nielsen 52 w/e 2 October 2010).Sarah Hughes, brand manager for bakery at Discovery Foods, says that total Discovery sales were even stronger than that, up 38.5% year-on-year to £6.7m (Nielsen MAT to 19 March 2011). But that’s not because consumers have embraced first-generation tortilla wraps perhaps stuffed with beans and salsa, hoisin duck or some other exotic filling, she says. No, it is because shoppers have been persuaded that wraps are a healthy option and that it is fine to put “safe” filling options, such as cheese and tomato, in a wrap. No-one is going to sneer.Hughes says: “The biggest priority for customers seems to be that wraps are a healthy option. It is an ongoing education process, showing shoppers how user-friendly wraps can be and getting across the idea that fillings don’t need to be fancy. People are fussy and they want familiar fillings tuna, ham, cheese and chicken are the most popular.”New product development in wraps mimics the tried-and-tested path taken with mainstream breads, she adds. “Multiseed is our best-performing line in terms of growth, although plain sells most volume. Wholemeal is in third place. We would look to do more variants in the future. We have been sampling 50-50 white plus wraps which have had a very positive response from consumers.”Penetration is also up by 5.8% for Discovery wraps year-on-year, Hughes adds, compared to 3.9% the previous year (Kantar Worldpanel to 20 March). Hughes sees lots of additional opportunities for growth among females and mums buying for kids in particular.It is the same story at fellow Mexican foods supplier Mission Foods. It reports that tortilla sales are growing at around 25% a year, and that it has seen sustained growth for the last two years plus.However, there is still only about 30% household penetration on tortillas. The longer-established naan bread is at around two thirds penetration now, a level which Mission hopes tortillas will achieve, given their versatility and the fact that they are perceived as being a healthier option than conventional sliced bread.Wraps go mainstreamTestament to the potential of the market is probably seen in the fact that mainstream plant baker Warburtons launched its version of wraps in February albeit a fairly denatured version of the original product. Warburtons’ Square-ish Wraps and Sandwich Thins were launched to appeal to a younger consumer profile. Warburtons suggests a number of ways they can be used, including as a pizza base or folded with melted cheese as part of a snack.Another ’ethnic’ bread slowly being adopted into the mainstream is the bagel. These are now bought by 20.1% of UK households and the bagel market is worth £46.7m in the UK (up 7.2%), according to AC Nielsen figures for January 1 to 19 March, 2011.New York Bakery Co bagels are the biggest-selling brand and are bought by 14.4% of UK households again still a relatively low level of penetration. But the signs are positive, New York Bakery bagels are bought 3.7 times a year, an increase of 10% year-on-year, says the company.Again, growth is coming through mirroring the mainstream breads market. New York Bakery Co relaunched its bagels in January 2011. A wholemeal bagel was introduced, which is high in fibre and low in fat. Over 230,000 packs of the wholemeal bagel were sold in the 12 weeks following launch, a spokeswoman says.On the naan bread front, supplier Honeytop commands around 70% of the UK naan bread market. Honeytop says it is responding to changing consumer demographics for example by developing new product and pack sizes to satisfy single-person and family households. And Honeytop recently developed a folded flatbread for Asda aimed at the sandwich market.Indian influenceMeanwhile, figures from Kantar Worldpanel suggest that Indian breads, such as chapati, are also starting to make inroads in the UK retail scene. These are currently available through upmarket retailers, such as online operation Ocado. Sales of chapati are up 12% to £4m for the year to 20 March, 2011.A Key Note report on Bread and Bakery Products, published in March 2011, suggests: “Speciality breads are growing in popularity, but only really in urban areas that have a diverse, multicultural population, as this is where the majority of the target market resides. Such types of ethnic breads tend to expand into the larger, non-ethnic population after being on the market for a period of time, thanks to a widening interest in more exotic tastes among the general public.”Key Note predicts that new product development is likely to become a key part of the speciality breads sector, particularly as the immigrant population grows. It adds: “Bread manufacturers are likely to respond quickly to this growing demand, due to the fact that volume sales in other sectors of the market are likely to start to stagnate in the coming years.” And as a race described by Napoleon as “a nation of shopkeepers”, what better incentive to try something new? Sector performance n 2010, the “other breads” subsector accounted for the highest proportion of the speciality breads segment, according to Key Note. It recorded household expenditure of £580m last year up 13.5% year-on-year. This subsector includes most types of ethnic and continental breads. Availability Ethnic’ breads now available in the UK include:l Bagelsl Flatbreads including the chapati from the Indian subcontinent, the pitta bread derived from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, and the Mexican tortillal Naanl Cholla a braided Jewish loafl Rye breads Scandinavian and German breads made from rye flour, often with added wheat flour to produce a lighter loaf. Also Polish black/brown breads Spend on ethnic breads (£’000s) 52 w/e 21 Mar 1052 w/e 20 Mar 11Total434,597465,927Chapatis 3,5864,013Flat breads+platters 11,28514,669Naan bread80,22280,439Tortilla wraps67,93480,279Source: Kantar Worldpanel Total ethnic food sales UK (£m/RSP) % change yoy20081,237.0 +4.620091,284.2 +11.220101,367.4 +3.3Source Key Note, Ethnic Foods, January 2011
Waitrose has appointed Rob Collins as its new retail director, who will take the position from January 2012.Taking over from Tony Solomons, who is set to retire after 30 years in the business, Collins will lead retail operations for the John Lewis Partnership-owned supermarket’s nationwide branches. He will also be responsible for the business’ e-commerce, convenience and hospitality offers.Helen Hyde, Waitrose’s divisional registrar, is likely to fill Collins’ previous role of retail personnel director, which he has been in since April 2010.Mark Price, Waitrose’s managing director, said: “Both Rob and Helen bring to their new roles a wealth of experience and a proven track record within Waitrose – their leadership will be invaluable to their respective directorates as we enter the exciting next stages in our development.”Collins has been with the group since 1993, when he started the John Lewis Partnership’s graduate training scheme. He has worked as managing director for John Lewis’ Aberdeen and Cribbs Causeway stores, moving across to Waitrose as director of e-commerce in 2007 after his position as director of selling support for John Lewis.