Over the past few weeks many people have told me of their dismay about the demise of AC Skeltons of Hull, and its 42 shops. I share that dismay.Skeltons was one of the best known bakery companies for over 70 years with some excellent employees. But six years ago things began to get much tougher: supermarket competition, rising energy and flour prices, increased business rates, new food regulations, employment legislation and so on. And if you cease to have money to invest you cease to grow. It’s why profit is so essential.I can never understand the anti-capitalists of this world. Trade is what makes the world go round. They should campaign against abuse, fraud and unjust war. But profits keep us all in jobs.I’m glad that Cooplands of Scarborough, has just bought Skeltons’ Hull bakery and 34 of its retail shops (pg 4). The shops will have good new owners and 500 jobs should be saved. When I last visited Cooplands two years ago I enjoyed meeting Paul Coopland and some of the staff including Chris Wainright, Rob Pashly and John Ruddock.They all had one thing in common: they had been winners or finalists in the Baking Industry Awards. I’m not surprised. Cooplands’ bakery was probably the cleanest I have ever visited and when I called in on a retail shop unannounced, the choice was good and service efficient. I paid a fair price for quality products.Cooplands specialises in retail, with minimal wholesale. Bakery manager Chris Wainwright explained how he had needed to be extremely proactive in attracting staff. At a careers trade fair he had seen parents physically drag children past the bakery stand to the catering corner – even a budding young patissier.So Cooplands developed a new strategy and offered work experience placements for up to three children at a time, as well as offering professional development for food technology teachers. It ran open days for schools including a tour of the bakery and presentations on career opportunities. Over lunch staff were encouraged to network and ’sell’ the baking industry to every school in their catchment area.All this took place while the shops were being modernised and business was growing. Skeltons should be in good hands.
Never believe your own publicity: I got carried away with a previous article I had written and began to believe I was a craftsman.While visiting John Waterfield to steal more good ideas, I met Albert Waterfield and, as bold as brass, I went up to him, stuck out my hand and said confidently: “Now tell me Albert, as one craftsman to another…” To which he looked at me in amazement and burst out laughing. Well, that was not the reception I was expecting, so I guess we are not fellow craftsmen.when in germany…While in Germany on a study tour we visited a baker in Munich. Although he did not speak English and my German was learned from war movies, with the aid of an interpreter I managed to learn that traditional German bakers are very worried about the large companies opening shops, mainly doing bake-off and undercutting them.One could assume they were just beginning to meet the competition we did some 10 years ago. While I am wary of commenting on another culture, it did look to me that they will have to change – as we have had to do – and perhaps utilise their space more profitably.Although we all admire their beautiful shops and superb patisserie, I did notice they had a 10-foot window filled with china and a four-foot cabinet with only four filled rolls in at midday. While there may not be as much demand for filled rolls as in England, I did see many shops concentrating on and selling filled rolls, so I can only assume there is a demand.This could be a perfect example of how we should not to rely on traditional trade but constantly look for new avenues of sale. Recently I read an article on business and thought the advice of the writer – focus, simplicity and reality when considering any new ideas or looking to put right any failings in the company – was extremely accurate and worth considering.one good idea at a timeOne of my many failings is that I seem incapable of learning the lesson of never making more than one major change at a time.Ideas come into my head and, as they all appear so good, at the time, I try to get them implemented all at once, forgetting that the availability and time of both managers and staff is limited. Hence there is a grave risk they will all fail, whereas, if I had exercised more self-control, there could possibly have been a winner among the ideas, which only needed more time and effort to have made us money.be wary of fadsThe latest craze appears to be to cut down on rich food and take more exercise. Well, I have bought all the books and one said, “swimming is great for you” – have they never seen a whale? Another said: “Exercise kills germs”, but how do you persuade germs to exercise? My wife has the perfect way to exercise: she just shops faster and then has the nerve to tell me to do more, saying, “The only exercise you get is raising your eyebrows.”The above I mention to prove a point. Be wary of jumping on every latest fad you read about; the old ones are often still the best.n
Specialist soft drinks company Metro Drinks has added a lemon and ginger variant to its Qu4ttro Stagioni soft drinks range.The addition represents winter in the Four Seasons range, and can be sampled at Caffè Culture on 21 and 22 May.The range has also been repackaged with bright new labelling, which keeps the original imagery but in a “more contemporary format”. Current listings include Caffè Nero, Ponti’s Café and the West Cornwall Pasty Company. The product has a 12-month shelf life and is available in 500ml plastic bottles.[http://www.metrodrinks.co.uk]
The last day for early bird booking for the 2008 Baking Industry Awards is Monday 30 June, so make sure you book your table now! The early bird offer means tables cost £1,600 plus VAT for a table of 10 (normally £1,750 + VAT) and £1,920 for a table of 12 (normally £2,100 + VAT). Individual tickets costs £170 plus VAT each (normally £185 + VAT).The awards will be held at the Great Room, Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London, and will begin with a special reception followed by a three-course meal and wine. Celebrity presenter Kate Thornton, who is hosting the event, then calls all of the finalists to the stage to receive their recognition and certificates before revealing the name of the overall winner who is given the coveted trophy. Dancing and a casino follow the awards’ announcements and with 900 people attending, there is plenty of opportunity to network and catch up with old friends.Please contact Elizabeth Ellis on 01293 846593 or email [email protected], visit www.bakeryawards.co.uk for more information and to download a booking form, which you can fax back on 01293 846538.
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The vast majority of bakeries, cafés and convenience stores offer sandwiches as part of their product range. The sandwich is one of the UK’s favourite foods-to-go, with over 60% of customers wanting pre-packed, freshly made or heat & eat.So what do you need to know about your customers’ preferences and the market? Most importantly, how can you set yourselves apart from the competition?Analyst him!’s Coffee shop 2009 report reveals that 64% of sandwich customers are female and 59% of them are working full-time. So consider lighter choices to attract female customers and don’t just stick to favourite fillings such as egg, cheese, tuna, sausage, ham, chicken and bacon. Why not introduce a salad and avocado wrap for the light lunch occasion or a tuna pitta for the health- and nutrition-conscious.Before you make any changes to your sandwich offer, however, analyse your customer demographics; for instance if your shop is located next to a building site or the white van man is a regular visitor, consider triple packs, filled baguettes and hot fills, as these groups demand much more filling. You can also be creative and introduce new flavours, such as a chilli steak panini.Our colleagues at him! tell us that the majority of sandwich customers, 58%, prefer the typical British sandwich with toast bread, 30% choose paninis and only 3% fancy a baguette. So, it’s important to have the favourites in your range. Equally, try to introduce new bread carriers, flat breads such as pittas and wraps for the more health-conscious and focaccias or ciabatta for those more exotic big eats.All these little tweaks will set you apart from the competition.Oxxygen Marketing Partnership is a strategic management agency that works on brand development within the foodservice, bakery and convenience retail sectors
The UK’s gluten-free market looks set to be worth the most in Europe over the next five years – valued at £242.719m. However, independent research analyst Datamonitor has predicted that growth will continue to slow.Despite gluten-free’s profile having been raised by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Liz Hurley, who have been linked to gluten- or wheat-free diets, Datamonitor said it believes there is a risk it will suffer in the same way that low/no-carb products did over the second half of the last decade.“With a number of consumers also wrongly self-diagnosing themselves as coeliacs, as well as gluten-free being somewhat of a ‘vogue diet’ – therefore susceptible to a rapid decline in popularity among non-coeliacs – it is possible that long-term growth will be negatively impacted,” reported the firm.“In fact there are already signs that gluten-free may plateau in the future, as we predict growth over the next five years is somewhat less than what we’ve seen for the last five years,” commented consumer analyst Mark Whalley.Whalley said that firms need to focus on broadening their products’ appeal, and should ensure they communicate the wider benefits of gluten-free foods, rather than relying on what is excluded from products.These findings come from recent research by Datamonitor – The Future of Gluten-Free: Consumer Insight and Product Opportunities.
After three decades in the bakery sector, North London bakery manager Jefta Kon Lakovic shares 10 Golden Rules of Management1 Delegating the jobs and activity does not mean that the manager abdicates responsibility.2 Taking action is not enough. Making things happen is.3 Every manager owes it to their people to develop them to the limit of their potential, thus making them independent in their daily activities (instead of only telling each person what to do at the time it is required).4 Nobody can lead if they are not in front.5 Leading from the front and among inspires people to follow.6 In service of others there is an eternal satisfaction.7 The unsightly caterpillar has a choice change into a beautiful butterfly or perish.8 Those who have to exercise their authority continually, hardly have any at all.9 All dreams are possible when the whole team holds the same dream.10 We the business team – come first; I come last.
Earlier this month, FWP Matthews hosted an Italian bakery demonstration at its mill in Chipping Norton. Italian baker Aldo Cordero, from the Cordero family mill, produced a range of breads, including focaccia, ciabatta rustica and pugliese. The mill has hosted French bakery demonstrations for a number of years, but this was the first time for Italian.”If you set out your stall to provide a whole range of flours, you’ve got to do more than just knock on bakers’ doors and ask them to buy it. You need to explain more about how the flours work,” said FWP Matthews joint MD Paul Matthews. “And it’s a great advantage to the baker to be able to produce something that can’t be made in a supermarket.” He said it’s also helpful for the bakers to interact with each other and to discuss new ideas.Michel Nguyen, from FWP Matthews’ French partner Moul-Bie, said these workshops are a good way for the two companies to communicate what they are doing, and for customers and potential customers to see that the product is genuine.To mark its 100th anniversary FWP Matthews was also launching two types of flour Nutri-Or and Nutri-Gold which contain an ingredient called aleurone. “Aleurone has a high concentration of nutrients and we have managed to extract and isolate the aleurone layer from the bran,” said Nguyen. “Adding it back into our white flour enriches them both with aleurone, so you can claim wholegrain goodness in the product. It’s based on 50 years of work we’ve done on fractionising flour.” The marketing pack includes an edible wholegrain goodness rice sticker to bake on products.
Although presents such as chocolates, jewellery or flowers are seen as the Valentine’s Day stalwarts, why not promote special Valentine’s bakery products as the gift of choice in 2011? To coin a new phrase, “If cake be the food of love, eat on”. Ideas could include: heart-shaped cookies or cakes iced with declarations of love, or red-velvet cupcakes decorated with red and white edible hearts. And as these items are likely to be given as gifts, make sure you consider the packaging for example adorned gift boxes or cookies in clear plastic pouches tied with coloured ribbon.Liana Stevens of Nottingham-based cupcake business Star Bakery says its cupcake gift boxes containing nine cakes for £20 sold very well around Valentine’s Day last year, as well as special Valentine’s cookies, which it will be offering again in February. Meanwhile, Claire Rogers, owner of Crumbilicious in Oswestry, says she will be offering personal message cupcakes, and has already designed a ’marry me’ cupcake, with a partnering ’yes’ cupcake. For those who don’t have a partner to give Valentine’s Day bakery delights to, why not offer them an alternative, such as “I love me” cupcakes, or “broken-hearted” biscuits?Ingredients manufacturer Macphie has just launched a new red velvet cake and muffin mix, which it says is ideal for Valentine’s Day-themed applications. The mix produces a range of cakes with a red appearance, which have a very subtle chocolate flavour and a moist and tender crumb, explains the firm. “Red velvet is new and exciting; it’s the hottest ticket in town for the bakery market,” says marketing manager, Jania Boyd. “Research shows that impulse purchase accounts for 80% of bakery sales and Macphie red velvet mix is ideal for making eye-catching muffins, cupcakes, whoopie pies, and celebration cakes that consumers will find irresistible.”ADM Milling marketing manager Melanie Somerville recommends its Raspberry and Passion Fruit cake mix for the production of Valentine’s Day treats. The mix only requires the addition of water and oil to produce a range of different products, including cupcakes, muffins and heart-shaped cakes that can be hand-finished with romantic messages, explains Somerville. “Bakers who prefer scratch recipes can use ADM’s Golden Dawn Plain flour, which is a low-protein soft flour, ideal for making heart-shaped cookies. These can be hand-finished with icing sugar or sugarpaste hearts,” she adds.Puratos, which develops and supplies bakery, confectionery and chocolate ingredients, says using its newly revamped Satin range, which includes Satin Crème Cake mix, Satin Moist Cake mix, Satin Muffin mix and Satin Farmhouse mix, will enable bakers to extend their range while keeping costs and risk to a minimum. “The Satin Crème Cake makes a great cookie and, with the addition of Puratos’ bakestable fillings, cut them in a heart shape and you have a seasonal variety,” says the firm. Try, for example, Coconut Satin and Raspberry or chocolate cookies dipped in Belcolade chocolate, it adds.Concentrate on chocolateChocolate and Valentine’s Day go together like the proverbial horse and carriage, says Unifine Food & Bake Ingredients, which is why it has kept chocolate at the heart of its Valentine’s recipes for 2011. The recipes use ingredients from the firm’s portfolio, including mixes, chocolate products, fonds and toppings and a brand new plain chocolate heart-shaped frame decoration available now for next year. The 30mm x 30mm decoration could be used to top desserts, cakes and biscuits or to finish the sides of a gateau, for example. Suggested recipes for Valentine’s Day include a heart-shaped sweetheart cake, finished with tempered white chocolate and a St Valentine’s transfer. Unifine’s chef patissier Graham Dunton has also developed a red velvet cupcake using Sumix Choco, designed to carry the new heart decoration.The firm also suggests a different take on coconut kisses heart-shaped macaroons. These can be filled with fruit and topped with tempered chocolate fragments. Or why not offer heart-shaped shortbread biscuits, decorated with the new chocolate heart decoration and finished with delicate stripes of pink icing?Once your product offering is sorted, don’t forget about planning a window display to tempt in all those customers. Mike Holling, retail and sales manager, Birds of Derby, says Valentine’s Day-themed products will sell for weeks in advance of the big day. “Selling Valentine’s treats is a great way of bringing in incremental sales; this year, we achieved sales in excess of £12,000 for Valentine products,” explains Holling. “Our Valentine-themed products are sent out mid-January to allow for a three-week window of trading during the run-up to the day. The colour of these kind of products is very important, the reds and the whites gives a nice contrast and it adds a bit of imagination to the product displays.” The craft bakery chain adapts its regular products, such as biscuits and novelty lines, adding inscriptions, noting its Valentine’s cupcake as a particular success this year.