Although some bakers have realised the potential for ice cream sales, many have baulked at the idea of investing in specialist equipment, finding suitable products and suppliers, and training staff. The Ice Cream Alliance (ICA) (stand L300/310) has come up with a solution to these problems, which provides an easy way for bakers to benefit from selling ice cream during the peak season.It has teamed up with leading players in the ice cream industry including ice cream manufacturer Beechdean Dairies, refrigeration supplier Lowe Refrigeration and foodservice distributor 3663.The problem of investing in equipment has been overcome as bakers are able to rent a tray display freezer, with six or seven flavours, for 13 weeks, to cover the main selling season. The freezer is delivered and installed by Lowe.Product selection has been taken care of by Beechdean by using its market knowledge and ice cream expertise to put together a range of fast-selling flavours. These are supplied in saleable, storable quantities through 3663 which will also supply two sizes of cones and flakes to complete a simply priced, quick and easy range.To get them off to a sound start, bakers receive a starter pack which contains useful items such as ordering forms, serving scoops and cone holders, along with easy-to-follow information on ice cream storage, handling and marketing.“The end result of this team work is that bakers can approach the summer with eager anticipation of the extra sales and footfall that selling quality ice cream will deliver for only an initial outlay of around £300, plus stock,” says the ICA.This low-cost of entry to the ice cream market means that bakers should start earning extra profit after selling just 30 cones per week.
Ingredients manufacturer Zeelandia Ltd (Billericay, Essex) has launched a new fried confectionery product called Quarkini, available in 25kg bags.As the name suggests, Quarkini is produced using quark, a type of cream cheese, and water. Similar to doughnuts, the non-yeast-raised product can be made into balls, with a cream cheese and buttery taste. With a quick and efficient preparation, Quarkini is easy to use and produces consistent results.The level of stability of the powder format allows for fruit, such as raisins, apples or nuts, to be added for that extra touch.
Over 200 people attended the Worshipful Company of Bakers’ annual election banquet last week at the Mansion House in London, where Anthony Greenwood was elected as the new Master. He was presented with the chain of office by outgoing master Alan Willis.Anthony Greenwood said: “During my year of office I intend to promote not just the Worshipful Company of Bakers but also the education and future of bakery students in the UK.”Anthony Greenwood has work-ed as a lecturer in bakery technology and as general manager of Stephan Machinery.One of the key roles of The Worshipful Company is to grant bursaries to bakery students throughout the UK.
Similarity of approachMany of the bakers in the Top 50 have come up with similar solutions to boosting profitability: they talk of developing their businesses by adding wholesale accounts, offering van sales, modernising stores or introducing new café concepts. Finally, many speak of the importance of having a fine local reputation, to keep drawing customers in.AC Skelton & Sons, for example, plans to develop the wholesale side of its business in 2007. It will start by supplying four Asda supermarkets with Skeltons’ branded products in February. Stepping up the wholesale business will allow it to make use of capacity at its central bakery throughout the day.MD Malcolm Skelton says the company already has a toe in the water, as it supplies Weight Watchers’ products to the supermarkets through Anthony Alan Foods. And it has taken advice on practicalities such as costings and margins from regional development body Yorkshire Forward.On the retail side of the business, Skeltons plans to launch a new café concept in spring to take advantage of booming customer demand for coffee. It plans an initial two or three coffee lounges in its shops, all 42 of which already offer hot takeaway.But Skelton says the list makes him feel nostalgic, as his chain is now the only bakery based in Hull, down from 23 chains in the city in the 1960s.Like many of his bakery comrades on the list, Peter Coughlan, MD of Coughlans, reports that his company is experimenting with mobile shops. The company has two so far. The roll-out of Coughlans’ fresh and modern ’Munch’ store format will complete in March, with 11 of its 20 shops already refurbished. The company also plans to open one or two new outlets in 2007, “taking things very slowly”, says Coughlan.Greenhalgh’s, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, has one delivery van and has another couple on order for January. David Smart, production director says: “In the north west, you fall over industrial estates, so the vans are a nice part of the business.”He adds that the company has seen an influx of Lithuanian staff since the EU was enlarged in 2004 and now has its first Lithuanian supervisor. Smart comments it is surreal to walk round his bakery and see posters up in Lithuanian, which he cannot read. “I will have to take Lithuanian lessons!” he says.He describes 2006 as “not bad” for trade. “We had a rough passage in July, with the warm weather, but things picked up from the end of August.” And December was a “scorcher” for sales, he says.Greenhalgh’s opened three shops over the year and Smart believes it would be nice to increase the company’s estate by five more stores to 50 during its 50th year. However, the company found it very difficult to pass on the price increases emanating from the rising costs of energy and flour. It plans to identify new sites, cut costs where possible and be efficient in all areas – especially with energy and flour usage.Firkins’ bakery’s MD Ian Bolderston says he has very ambitious plans for the firm. “We are planning a refurbishment of one store a month, and will also carry out smaller-scale revamps on other stores in the interim to make the brand more appealing to customers. The feedback we’ve had from customers following our first refurbishment in Birmingham city centre in November was fantastic: sales increased by 50% a week.”Bolderston, who bought the company out of administration in 2006, says new ranges, such as vegetarian options, have pleased city worker customers. It has also opened a factory shop to target the wholesale market.But there are still major issues in the business: “The industry as a whole is suffering, due to high energy and wheat costs, but these pale into existence compared to growing labour costs. With the government increasing the minimum wage by 5-6%, overheads are constantly rising and, as a result, margins are decreasing, which has a massive impact on any business.”Meanwhile, David Jenkinson, MD of Cooplands in Doncaster cites another problem bakers have to tackle. He says the company faces a problem in getting rid of waste – this costs around £64,000 a year. “I used to be able to sell it on, but now we pay people to take it away,” he says. “Plastic wraps and cellophane are a problem in bakery waste.”James Ainsley, sales and marketing manager of Ainsleys of Leeds says that, in 2006, it faced increased competition in the city of Leeds. “We can overcome this through innovation, new products, different marketing strategies and bolder promotions, such as buy one get one free,” he says. But the company plans to continue to expand: “We are hoping to reach 40 stores in the next three years, with three more opened by the end of 2007.”Chairman of the National Association of Master Bakers Noel Grout, MD of the 11-shop BB Grout’s chain, says success the traditional baker’s success depends on doing things better than rival operators and maintaining a good local reputation.He says: “Our shops are in an eight-mile radius of the central bakery, in a very tight circle. That allows us high standards for freshness. We deliver to stores two or three times a day. We also make sure our shops are attractive and well-lit; you must not neglect the shops.”Like many, Grout talks of changing with the changing needs of society. “Just because a product was successful 30 or 40 years ago doesn’t mean it will be successful now.” Most traditional craft bakers report that their role on the high street has radically altered over the last few years.Where once they focused on loaves of bread, now anything from baked potatoes to cappuccino is on offer in their shops. Many describe themselves as sandwich retailers and talk of having “adapted to survive”. At the same time, a swarm of new arrivals, such as coffee shop Starbucks and sandwich chain Subway, have made their presence felt on the high street, selling high-quality bakery ranges.British Baker’s new Top 50 league table of bakery retailers by number of outlets (see pg 16), which will be published annually, puts the changing face of UK bakery retail in context, with old and new bakery businesses listed side by side.The list serves as a reminder that the face of the high street is changing. Subway, Starbucks and Costa Coffee all have 500 or more stores in the UK and other operators, such as Caffè Nero, M&S Café Revive, BB’s Coffee & Muffins, Pret A Manger and Millies Cookies all have estates in triple figures.The list confirms that bakery giant Greggs is king of the new high street, with more than five times as many shops as its nearest bakery rival, Lyndale Foods, the company which owns the Sayers, Hampsons and Maison Blanc brands.With 1,327 UK outlets it also has more shops than the fast-food giants McDonald’s and Burger King (see pg 18), and more shops in the UK than Subway and Starbucks combined.But 2006 was hard on the high street bakery retailer, however large. Many of the businesses who have made it to the top end of the new list have had a very troubled year.The company in 15th place, Welsh bakery chain Ferrari’s, has been trading in administration since late December. Meanwhile, Cooks The Bakery (at number 11) and Birmingham-based Firkins (at number 18) were both bought out of administration during the course of 2006.Even Greggs has recently been through a strategic review and is planning to make products in its Greggs branded shops more “aspirational”. Meanwhile, second-ranked Lyndale Foods plans to announce the results of its own strategic review in the Spring, with big changes expected. CasualtiesA number of well-known businesses have dropped off the list in the course of the last year, most recently 17-shop Coombs Quality Bakers in Leicester, which was absorbed out of administration by Hampshires bakery. Many other bakers on the list speak of a quiet year, with trade picking up between September and Christmas. However, increases in turnover were often offset by rising costs, such as the minimum wage and flour and energy prices.Competition from cafés and supermarkets and changes in eating trends are other common challenges facing firms on the list. Skills shortage is also still a problem, but many bakery retailers speak of the positive impact skilled and non-skilled recruits from the enlarged EU – Poland and Lithuania for example – have made in bridging a growing skills gap the UK.
Sainsbury’s unveiled a range of six ’artisan’ breads this week under its Taste the difference label.Nick Townend, bakery category manager, told British Baker the launch coincided with customer demand for increasingly luxurious bakery items.The breads, which are made by Le Pain Croustillant, are initially going into 102 Sainsbury’s in-store bakeries.The range comprises five loaves at £1.69. These are: Raisin and Fig Bread, which includes dark rye levain and red malt flour; Rosemary and Rock Salt Focaccia, baked to a traditional Italian recipe, topped with rosemary and sprinkled with rock salt; a rye bread; Stonebaked Sour- dough Boule, which is a round, flour-topped loaf; and Six Cereal Stonebaked Bloomer – a blend of barley, maize, sesame, dark linseed, millet and oat flakes.There is also a Stonebaked Baguette, which retails at £1.19.Sarah Mackenzie, Sainsbury’s in-store bakery bread buyer, said: “Our Taste the difference range has shown strong growth so we went to look at artisan bakeries in France, spoke to French bakers and asked about their ’hero’ products. We then looked at how we could adapt them for the British market.”The breads are made using a 24-hour sponge levain. A lot of work went into flavour levels and fermentation times. All the breads use premium ’maquette’ French flour from the Champagne region and are hand finished.”The breads will be merchandised in-store in a special wooden case, supported by point of sale material, she added.
F orget ’looks aren’t everything’. Forget ’beauty is only skin deep’. And you can forget ’it’s what’s inside that counts’. In retail, looks are – almost – everything. You could have irresistible bakery products, but if no-one comes into the shop, then no one’s going to know.But it’s easy to create a decent look, right? Wrong! Walk down any high street and you will notice the difference between those bakery operators that merely limp on and those that thrive and grow, even when the products themselves are no better.The first step to getting your look right is nailing your brand credentials. Many people think branding is a quick flick of the wrist, a scroll down the font list on the PC and ’Bob’s your uncle’, a brand is born. If only. There are no short-cuts, no magic wands or ’just add water’ solutions. Instead, there are many questions that first need to be answered – who, what, why, where, and the inevitable how much?A few years ago, retail baker Bob Mortimer, who has nine shops in Dorset and Somerset, decided to drop the ’traditional’ face of Mortimers in favour of what was seen as a vital new trend in snacking and sandwich bars, and Bob’s Sandwich Bar was born.But the image failed to capture the public imagination and, despite decent products being offered, the revamp did nothing to enhance sales. The formula simply did not work. Fortunately, Bob was forward-thinking and learned from his errors; instead of reverting back to the old so-so formula, he sought professional help.Following some local research, talking to customers in a number of locations, it became obvious that Mortimer’s customers had lost faith in the offer and it was seen as a poor relation to major brands like Subway, Starbucks and even Tesco. The product itself was devoid of brand credibility.Mortimer realised this and the result was more than just a facelift; it also needed some reconstructive surgery, a few implants and a little nip’n’tuck – plus some pain in the wallet. The shop needed a fresher façade and much improved lighting to invite people into a more streamlined interior.NEW PRODUCTSInspired by their new look, they quickly took stock of what they were selling and soon developed some new products, such as brownies and cheese straws, alongside the established ones. They developed new sandwich fills and improved their baguettes, using French flour. And they commissioned imaginative posters and POS, to deliver a quality message.So convincing was the new marketing approach – no more PC-crafted posters Blu-Tacked to the window – that many customers thought the products “tasted so much better than the old stuff”. In fact, much of it was the “old stuff”, just presented better.A little over a year since the first make-over, Bob and son Richard (MD) have had time to measure the results. “Turnover on last year is up by a minimum of 20% week-in week-out and two shops are up 50-60% weekly,” says Richard. “The speed at which the refits have taken place is testament to the immediate effect it had on our business. All the family and staff have been re-invigorated with the re-branding and this has improved customer relations and, ultimately, sales.”The Mortimers are real bakers, building on traditional values and facing up to the realities of being a retailer first and a baker second. How you present yourself, your product and your message is vital. Talk to customers, connect with them, woo them and respect that they have a choice. Great products demand great delivery and anything less deserves to fail.
John Montague (1718-1792), the fourth Earl of Sandwich, often gets the credit for inventing the sandwich. But in fact, the idea of placing food products between two baked products dates back as far as the 1st Century BC, according to US author Linda Stradley, when Rabbi Hillel the Elder started the Passover custom of sand-wiching a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices, and wine between two matzohs. Whoever the credit rightly belongs to, sandwiches are big business these days. And whether your focus is on the humble chicken salad sandwich or the more left-field haggis breakfast sandwich, such as that proffered by food retailer Grazing, there is now some £3.8 billion worth of business up for grabs, according to market analyst Keynote.Boosting the market are changing consumer demographics; longer working days and shorter lunchbreaks, more working women and the focus on healthy, light lunches have all served to produce 23% growth since 2002 (source: Mintel), and there are now some 11.5 billion sandwiches eaten every year. But bakery retailers have a tough fight on their hands if they want to keep the lion’s share of the business.According to Keynote’s 2007 Coffee & Sandwich Shops market assessment, bakers’ leading but declining 33.5% share of volume sales and 26.4% share of value is now under intense pressure from quarters such as the multiples (particularly Tesco) and from variety/department stores such as Marks & Spencer. The grocer-cum-fashion retailer has been particularly effective at poaching customers with its pioneering ’super food’ sandwiches, which upgrade a quick bite into something truly functional, Mintel’s analysts believe.Higher-priced alternatives to the traditional sandwich wedge, such as wraps, submarines and baguettes, increasingly sold with exotic fillings and made of breads such as rye, pitta, focaccia and ciabatta, are also proving formidable weapons in the battle for market share.== Lunchtime and beyond ==It is certainly possible for bakery retailers to make a living out of the lunchtime market (see Hanson’s case study below) and there are clear opportunities.Despite the ’low-interest’ character of the market, consumers still like flexibility when it comes to their lunchtime choice, and bakery retailers are in a prime position to capitalise on the made-to-order market. With pre-packed sandwiches accounting for almost all sandwich sales through the grocery, c-store and forecourt sectors, made-to-order remains the preserve of the independent – and it is a market worth around £1.52bn.Bakers who make a success out of made-to-order say the key is to give the consumer more control, by offering them separate servings of condiments or ’dip pots’. Microwaveable fillings or toast bags that mean a standard sandwich can be toasted in a regular toaster also add a different dimension to a traditional favourite.Made-to-order sandwiches can also be paired with salad and soup and sold as a ’meal deal’, and healthy eaters wooed, through signage such as: ’Sandwich with Soup = just 500 calories and two of your five-a-day’, as well as healthier bread choices. For ’green’ customers, the focus could be on ethical packaging, which minimises waste, or local and free-range components that give the complete ’green’ experience. However, analysts also believe there could now be new sandwich eating occasions up for grabs.Consumers who work early or late, or who have a long commute, may well be looking for a small meal to tide them over until they get home. ’Eat me, keep me’ promotions – where two products are purchased, one to eat right away and the second to eat later – can position sandwiches as a great standby food, Mintel believes.There is also great potential to convert the lunchbox market. According to the British Sandwich Association (BSA), the commercial sandwich market is dwarfed by the 8.7 billion sandwiches we make in our homes each year. It is estimated that the lunchbox market – sandwiches made at home but carried out to be consumed at work or school – accounts for some 23% of this sector.But, the health and safety and ingredient quality standards – not to mention the convenience factor – of the commercial sandwich sector make convincing arguments for switching consumers out of the lunchbox market, and there is some evidence that sandwiches are now being bought in the evening for lunchbox use the next day, BSA director Jim Winship believes. He recommends that retailers adopt an innovative yet healthy approach to their sandwiches – for example, using shaped bread, Omega-3 bread, white with the goodness of brown bread and auxiliary fruit kebabs or by giving careful thought to the content or the location of the fillings they sell. He says: “You allow the parent to buy pre-prepared sandwiches that save time with a health guarantee, and this will move pre-packed sandwiches into the lunchbox market.”—-=== The UK Sandwich Market ===l The average sandwich price is £1.66l People in Yorkshire spend the most on sandwiches – an average of over £114/yearl People in the south west spend the least – an average of £55 a yearl The most expensive place to buy a sandwich is London – average price: £1.83l One-third of the market in value is accounted for by 25- to 34-year oldsl 55% of sandwiches eaten at home are consumed at lunchtime. A further 13% are eaten at tea, 11% at the evening meal and 7% as part of a snack. Some 14% are eaten at breakfast.Source: TNS Impulse Food on the Go and Worldpanel== Top 20 sandwiches purchased commercially ==1. Chicken Salad2. Egg & Cress3. Chicken & Bacon4. Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato5. Mixed selection6. Cheese & Onion7. Prawn Mayonnaise8. Ploughman’s9. Tuna & Sweetcorn10. Chicken11. Chicken Caesar12. Chicken & Stuffing13. Salmon & Cucumber14. Cheese & Ham15. Cheese, Ham & Pickle16. Egg & Bacon17. Tuna & Cucumber18. Hoisin Duck19. Ham & Mustard20. Cheese & TomatoSource: TNS Worldpanel 2006 data using bar-coded sandwiches. New ratings are due to be published soon== The cat that got the cream: case study ==Highly commended in the 2007 British Sandwich Association Bakery Sandwich Shop of the Year Awards, Hansons The Bakers of Bradford does not offer any pre-packed sandwiches. This is why some customers travel over seven miles to come to the shop, owner Robert Hanson believes. “We make sandwiches as people want them, with any variation of filling and everything made on the premises, using the best ingredients. We don’t offer pre-packed, as it doesn’t offer choice and it doesn’t give consumers a reason to come back – yes, it fills a gap but doesn’t make you say ’wow’.”Attention to detail ensures that every possible customer wish is catered for, even down to the tongs used to pick up meat and vegetables, which are colour-coded red and green respectively, to appeal to the baker’s Asian and vegetarian clientele.Instead of diversifying into baguettes or wraps, Hanson’s plan for the small family-run firm’s sandwich business is to increase his lunchtime delivery service, by accepting faxed orders and offering free delivery.”The potential revenue will really make a difference,” he says. “It’s the cream off the milk for a bakers like ours.”Hansons The Bakers, 12 Duckworth Lane, Bradford, West YorkshireTel: 01274 541540== The bread-based snack market by type and volume (%) ==Type % shareWedges 51Rolls and baps 17Type % shareBaguettes 13Submarines 5Type % shareContinentals 2Bagels 2Type % shareOther (incl pittas, paninis, wraps) 10Total 100Source: Impulse Food on the Go, TNS, Key Note
Consumer lobby group Which? has slammed sandwiches from Asda, Marks & Spencer and Subway as containing “shocking” amounts of salt, sugar or saturated fat and is calling for nutritional information to be available at point of sale for all sandwiches.Research published in Which? magazine found that Subway’s six-inch Meatball Marinara had 4.7g of salt – more than 75% of an adult’s 6g recommended daily intake; M&S’s Wensleydale & Carrot Chutney had 25.5g of sugar – equivalent to more than five teaspoons; and Asda’s Vintage Cheddar Ploughman’s (no mayo) had 15.2g of saturated fat, more than 75% of a woman’s maximum guideline daily amount. Both the Asda and M&S sandwiches had front-of-pack nutritional information labelling.Martyn Hocking, editor of Which? magazine, said: “A sandwich might seem a pretty healthy option, but there can be shoc-king amounts of salt, sugar and fat in some of them and you’d have no idea if they’re not labelled. Some coffee shops and sandwich chains have signed up to the Food Standards Agency’s pilot scheme to provide calorie information when eating out, but all food outlets should provide this as a matter of course.”At the British Sandwich Association, director Jim Winship said that providing nutritional information for sandwiches was difficult in foodservice. “For independent sandwich bars and bakers it’s a major problem because they don’t have the expertise or technology to analyse salt content in their products. Then there is the question of how you provide the information – do you put it on the paper bag, on a board on the wall or online?”He added that Which? was “jumping the gun” with its report. “It should have waited until the FSA’s pilot scheme on calorie information has been completed,” he said.
Finsbury Foods’ shares have shot up by around 5% following a preliminary approach regarding a potential offer for the company. However, the company moved to dampen speculation that a bid would be successful.The cake manufacturer said the approach was “exploratory in nature and the directors believe that there is considerable doubt that an offer will be forthcoming from this party”. A statement from Finsbury said a further announcement would be made in due course.
United Biscuits (UBUK) has redesigned its Brannigans’ crisps packaging and reverted to its traditional brown paper-bag style, due to a growing trend for nostalgic brands. The range will continue to feature Mr Brannigan on-pack and will also highlight its 65% reduction in saturated fats.The crisps are available in Roast Beef and Mustard and Smoked Ham and Pickle flavours in 40g bags.”Brannigans has always had a very loyal consumer base, due to its strong British flavours and quality ingredients,” commented Helen Warren-Piper, director of bagged snacks, UBUK. “There is a growing consumer demand for nostalgia brands and we feel that the new packaging will strike a chord with those who remember the old brown paper bag.”’’www.unitedbiscuits.com’’