F irst there was the iMac. Then came the muggers’ favourite, the iPod. Soon, if you take a long run-up and leap across the supermarket from electricals to in-store, you may find i-Bread. But far from being a bizarrely-conceived bready gadget – you can’t, or probably shouldn’t, walk down the street with it stuffed in your ears – this is actually a new concept in artisan-style functional breads.Founder of The Cotswold Food Partnership Carl Le Neveu explains: “i-Bread is about intelligent foods, it’s about ’I’ for me. You feel good buying it because it’s good for you, or because you’ve made an informed choice – for craft, for artisan, for premium. We believe, in time, it will be a recognisable brand in grocery.”The functionality comes from, for example, a crusty white loaf with the fibre and mineral content of wholemeal. Old hat to the plant bakers, maybe, but an idea still largely untouched in in-store, high street bakeries and foodservice. Cotswold is looking to bring its concept to market as a premix or as part-baked products for bake-off via wholesalers. “Consumers are now smarter about what they’re digesting. That, coupled with the huge change in UK demographics, presented an opportunity I couldn’t ignore,” says Le Neveu.One tactic will be identifying markets for the breads on a local level. “There are almost 750,000 Polish migrant workers in the UK. Part of our model is to offer speciality breads regionally, where there are strong pockets of communities.”Le Neveu spent the firm’s first few months securing ingredients supply from the continent. The company will be built around outsourcing. “In fact, we’re taking outsourcing to the extreme! But we’re not agents – there’s far more value to our business. We’re all about NPD and building brands.” n—-=== The pros and cons ===BIGGEST CHALLENGE:I went into this knowing I was prepared to invest in the business personally. I identified the opportunity within premium bread markets and I was ready to grasp it. I could take the financial risk and all of the set-up costs were funded by myself. I don’t take a salary – I want as much income as possible going back into the firm.BIGGEST SATISFACTION:Being at the sharp end of any major company has its stresses and strains – you’ve got budgets to hit and timelines to meet. I expected being self-employed, building a company up from the dust, from an idea to a business plan to implementation, not to be easy. But I’ve never felt so refreshed or satisfied. The biggest thing for me would be looking back in three to five years’ time and saying, ’We made a difference.’—-=== Going it alone ===The firm: Evesham-based Cotswold Food Partnership, launched September 2006The brief: a three-pronged business plan, starting with ’artisan’-style part-baked bread and premixes made with ’functional’ ingredients. Hand-held food-to-go bakery snacks and premium cake will followTypical customers: in-store bakeries; high street bakers; foodservice channelsStaff: five; PR and production is outsourced; a brand development agency has been employed to build the brandBackground: Founder Carl Le Neveu, a fourth-generation baker from South Wales, was educated at The National Bakery School, where he won Student Baker of the Year. He has worked for RHM, Dawn Foods, Kluman & Balter and, latterly, as commercial director with Anthony Alan FoodsFinance: £80,000 – self-financed, not using any grants or loansThird-party manufacturers: Scottish firm Fords, plus one unnamed north-east baker
BB’s Coffee & Muffins plans to open up to 25 outlets in petrol station forecourts in the UK by the end of next year, after launching the first at a branch of Shell in Middlesbrough last month.The move is the first time the coffee and bakery chain has opened outlets outside shopping centres in the UK and comes after signing a joint venture with Elite Fuels – a forecourt retailer that operates franchises for Shell and BP. A second forecourt operation is due to open in the next few months.Retail and brand director Michele Young said BB’s is also in talks with another forecourt retailer about opening further branches. “We see huge potential for growth in this area and expect to have around 25 cafés in forecourts by the end of 2010. We can operate on a managed, franchise or joint venture basis,” she said. BB’s has piloted similar forecourt operations in Ireland over the last two years, she added.The Middlesbrough store takes up around 20sq m in the petrol station’s Revive shop and serves handmade muffins, freshly prepared sandwiches, snacks and espresso-based coffee. “Our muffins are made from scratch each day in our cafés and, if they are not eaten that day, they aren’t sold,” she said. “They are very different to our competitors’ or other mass-manufactured products, which are thawed from frozen. We bake our baguettes each morning in our cafés and our sandwiches are hand-filled each day.”BB’s manages the Middles-brough operation on behalf of the joint venture with Elite. “Our strength is in running forecourts, not foodservice operations,” said Visvanathan Ramakrishnan, director of Elite Fuels. “So it makes sense for us to bring in an established brand with expertise in this area. BB’s brings all the expertise in shop-fitting, operations, business development and marketing to make this potentially a profitable and head- ache-free venture for us.”
A traditional Northumberland bakery has enjoyed its best year of trading in its 18-year history. Haltwhistle-based Border Homebake, which specialises in traditional tray bakes, was launched by Justine Carruthers in a disused dairy building, and now employs 12 staff, turning over £200,000 a year.The business delivers to independent stores and cafés, mainly in the North East, Cumbria, and Yorkshire, and recently began supplying 12 Morrisons stores across the North East.Carruthers is confident that she will win a contract with another supermarket chain this year. She said: “The recession has helped, as maybe everyone has decided to cheer themselves up by eating cakes. We are working flat out to keep up with the demand.”The company has started individually wrapping some products in response to customer demand, and it now brands all products under the Tray Bakes name. “This has proved really successful as I think that people know more about us now,” she added.Tray Bakes’ best-sellers include honeycomb crunch, a sweet meal honeycombed biscuit with a drizzle of white chocolate-flavoured coating, as well as luxury caramel shortcake and caramel crispie.
’Tis the season for celebrity chefs to pepper the press with sumptuous-looking festive book-plugging recipes. So we doff our caps in the direction of gastro boffin Heston Blumenthal for going against the grain and phoning in this Christmas show-stopping sarnie to freebie paper Metro. Over to you, Blumers… “Heat some Bird’s Eye frozen peas, crush them with butter, salt and pepper, then take a slice of Mother’s Pride white bread and butter with Anchor butter. Spread the crushed peas over the bread and top with half a white truffle.”
Lees dilemma settledLees Foods has reached a settlement with the former directors and shareholders of Patisserie UK, which will see it receive approximately £225,000. In June this year Lees announced it would be taking legal action against the people from whom it bought Patisserie UK a specialist bakery business that went into administration in March 2009, after its major customer Costa Coffee, which accounted for 75% of its sales, switched to another supplier.Upmarket openingUpmarket cake shop and café chain Konditor & Cook has opened its sixth outlet near London’s Southbank. Located on Stamford Street, the shop’s layout is inspired by “a new take on the domestic kitchen”. The shop, designed by architect Kevin Allsop, has an open-plan layout, with no counters separating staff and customers, and the hob, sink and kitchen paraphernalia on full view.Zero-salt cheese gains recognitionDairygold Food Ingredients took home the runner-up prize at the Dairy Innovations Food Ingredients Europe (FIE) awards 2009 for its zero-salt soft cheese. Innovations director Aidan Fitzsimons said the response from the foodservice industry to the new cheese had been very positive. “We have already developed a reduced-fat low-salt sandwich filling for one of our major UK retail clients,” he added.Apprentice awardsThe National Apprenticeship Service has launched its seventh awards. Categories include Young Apprentice of the Year, Apprentice of the Year and Small, Medium and Large Employer of the Year. Entries close on 27 February 2010. To enter, please go to apprenticeships.org,uk.awards
Unite members at Tunnock’s biscuit factory in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, continued with planned strike action today, after rejecting the offer of a 2% pay increase at a meeting held yesterday.The 24-hour walkout started at 00.01 this morning (23 September), with a second 24-hour strike set to take place next Tuesday, 28 September. Up to 500 members are thought to be taking part. A continuous overtime ban and work-to-rule action also began at midnight, according to Unite.The formal offer of a 2% increase with set conditions was received by the union late on Tuesday (21 September) afternoon, but was rejected by members at a meeting held yesterday, according to a spokesperson for Unite. Unite regional officer Derek Ormston said: “The members feel let down and angry and believe the 2% increase does not go far enough. They believe that Tunnock’s approach has been all about smoke and mirrors rather than genuine negotiations. Strike action will now go ahead from midnight tonight, but we still remain available to talk.”Workers will formally vote on whether to accept or reject the offer, with a postal ballot due to close on 4 October.The spokesperson for Unite added that its members have been angered by “misleading information” allegedly put out by Tunnock’s, which claimed the union had rejected its offer, when, at that point, no offer had been made. Tunnock’s manufactures teacakes, snowballs and caramel wafers.
Mitchell & Cooper is offering a new range of silicon moulds to those looking to create interestingly shaped bakery products. The Silikomart Professional moulds come in a range of shapes from traditional muffin cases to hearts, pyramids and volcanoes.According to the firm, the moulds not only give shape and creativity to a finished product, but their thermal conductivity also ensures that they give the very best results to cooked or baked product.The moulds can be used for chocolate, dough, sponge, pastry or even gelatine, and are capable of withstanding temperatures from -60ºC to +230ºC. They are made from 100% food-safe liquid silicon and are dishwasher safe.
If you haven’t heard the phrase “there’s an app for that”, then it’s time you stepped into the 21st century. Because with 11 million users and counting, this latest smartphone technology looks set to transform the world of retail.What’s more, the rise in phone ’apps’ could well have direct relevance to the bakery trade, which uses a sales model well-suited to the advantages an app can deliver. This is especially true now that an independent coffee shop in Birmingham, Urban Coffee Company, has beaten the big chains by launching an app for ordering coffees in stores, aimed at fostering a loyal customer base (see news, pg 8).”Many people still find themselves confused by the term ’apps’,” explains freelance programmer James Tann, who currently works for Sony. “This is because there are so many different versions, they can be quite difficult to define. ’App’ simply stands for ’application’ and it refers to a piece of software that runs from a mobile phone, and interacts directly with the internet. So you might have an app that delivers you content from a particular website in a managed way best-suited to phone access. Businesses like bakeries can take advantage of this to make it easier for customers to order from their phones.”As usual, the US is leading the way, with several bakeries having developed their own apps to speed customer ordering direct from their phones. Barry’s Bagels, which has four stores in Ohio and another in Michigan, recently developed an iPhone app after seeing an increase in sales from online ordering. The software allows people to browse their menu and order from them immediately. On top of this, customers can save their favourite and past orders, making it even easier to order from them. Other features include a restaurant locator, which gives directions to the nearest outlet.Meanwhile in the UK, US-led Starbucks has also made its own app, enabling customers to manage their Starbucks card (a prepaid cash card used in their stores) direct from their phone, as well as browse menu options.In the UK many bakeries are still deliberating the possible advantages of apps. “What I’m getting out of what exists already is good enough,” says Andrew Auld, managing director and baker at The Loaf in Crich, Derbyshire. “We have a website and a blog and use Twitter daily. We use apps to send out our tweets, but don’t feel we need our own personal app.”So while Auld is happy to use a pre-developed app to make his life easier, he’s not yet convinced the investment could benefit his customers. He’s not alone. Very few British bakeries have decided to make customer-facing apps, and most find that posting ’tweets’ via social networking site Twitter is a perfectly serviceable way to update tech-savvy customers as to the latest fresh batch from the oven.”We have decided to hold off on creating an app for the time being and see how the industry develops,” says Irene Lentsch, marketing manager of The Albion Bakery in Shoreditch, London. “We find tweeting and telephone ordering cover most of our business needs.”But with more than 11 million UK users, smartphones and apps are an essential part of everyday life. The question currently is whether a customer-facing app is the route to follow, or if this smartphone software could have a more effective function for internal processes.”I would think that apps that take orders wouldn’t be viable for most bakers,” explains George Thomas, sales advisor at Appdevelopersuk.com. “I would recommend a bakery went down the route of an app that had menus and recipes, rather than ordering facilities. The processes they would need to put in place at the bakery to dispatch the orders would be quite expensive.”So what counts as expensive? “Cost will vary depending on what you want,” says Thomas. “You should expect to invest at least £3,000 or, if you want to use ordering technology, £15£20,000. It will take between six weeks and three months to complete an app, depending on what it is and how many people are working on it.”It is also important to factor in marketing costs when creating an app. “A good app needs great branding and PR,” adds Thomas. “There is no point spending a lot of money on an app if you don’t market it, because no-one will know it’s there.”Accessibility is another important issue. Once your app is ready, it won’t be available to everyone with a smartphone. Businesses therefore face the challenge of adapting their iPhone app for other platforms, such as Android, Palm, Symbian, Blackberry and Java.”You need to consider there are different markets out there,” explains Thomas. “It is not easy to transpose one app on to another market. It will cost about the same and will take roughly the same amount of time to create the same app for a different market.”Before you decide that this seems like a large investment for dubious returns, however, it’s worth considering that apps do have considerable advantages over other internet marketing devices. Even if creating revenue through ordering isn’t an option, an app can still have a useful function. Apps often work for a business in a way that is very similar to a website, the main difference being that, with an app, the icon is constantly in view on the phone. This means that the customer is continuously exposed to your branding.If you’re still not convinced an app development is right for your customers, it’s still worth considering apps that might serve your business. The development of this software means that those firms whose staff have smartphones could have access to an app, which allows them to manage various business processes more seamlessly.One bakery currently deploying this logic to a profitable end is Warburtons. It has created a Blackberry app to streamline its day-to-day internal operations. The app alerts the necessary people of purchase orders, and emails the relevant parties. It also allows users to review a purchase order, release it, reject it or place it on hold and all this can be done from the smartphone.In fact, the huge popularity of the smartphone means that it is highly probable that an app has already had an impact on your business without you even realising it. Many smartphone users download apps such as Yelp!, which can help people find anything from shops, cafés and bakeries to petrol stations and pet shops. So it pays to find out what apps your customers are using, and ensure that, where relevant, your business is as well-represented as it can be in relation to them.Many bakeries are yet to be convinced, arguing that the emergent technology is not yet as cheap nor effective as current options such as Twitter. “Most people are already on Twitter or signed up to our blog,” argues Auld. “It is important to use the breadth of technology available, because people follow things in different ways. People who don’t follow Twitter can still read our tweets, because we link them to our website and blog. You’d be missing out if you focused on one techno-logy exclusively.”With technology continuing apace, however, the likelihood is that, sooner or later, we will all be engaging with apps for a great number of bakeries. Taking possible drawbacks into consideration, creating an app is certainly not something to enter into lightly. Although the advantages speak for themselves, small businesses may not feel they have the capital to take what some consider such a risk. One thing for certain is that the app market is well worth keeping an eye on. In fact, there is probably an app that can do that for you. Apps for you? l Kitchen iQ (from DayMark Safety Systems) a free collection of tools designed to help bakers and foodservice professionals avoid common food safety pitfalls and offering easy-to-implement solutions.l Easy Task Manager (from Orionbelt.com) a digital to-do list that prioritises tasks and adds them to a calendar, all for free.l Minibooks (from freshbooks.com) manage clients, send invoices, run timers and record payments on-the-go. The restricted version is free and the full app costs £8.99.l Scoot (from scoot.co.uk) A free business finder with a quick search function that allows you to update the info with an easy to use Add a Business tool. Find information about local suppliers of products and services wherever you are.l BikeHub (from bikehub.co.uk) Do you cater for people looking for cyclist-friendly cafés? This free app uses OpenCycleMap mapping and will soon have a café finders facility. This is based on the OpenStreetMap project, which is being called the “Wikipedia of maps” a worldwide community of 300,000 people toiling to keep the most up-to-date maps possible. Is your business on there? l Vouchercloud (from vouchercloud.com) This allows businesses to issue mobile voucher codes and is currently being used by Coffee Republic. The app detects the user’s location and presents discounts or offers to take in store. l Sweet Spot (from iTunes.apple.com) A free app to help people find bakeries and ice cream shops, wherever they are. It pinpoints your location.l Poynt (from poynt.com) Another free nifty business locator, but this time for Blackberry users.
By Max Jenvey of Oxxygen Marketing Partnership, a strategic business accelerator specialising in bakery, foodservice and convenience retailAre you going to open or close on 29 April as a consequence of the Royal Wedding? Why not find a way of capitalising on these big events? St Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween or St Patrick’s Day are great opportunities for increasing your revenue, if you remember that it’s not business as usual and your offer must reflect that.Give in to your creativity! Consumers are looking for something different, special and out of the ordinary, so these festive occasions are great for bakeries to come up with fun ideas to brighten up their shop windows and displays. As Bill Donnelly, managing director of Cake Decor says, “Bakers don’t have to make big changes; they can just take an all-year product for example cupcakes and add a couple of components to make the product seasonal.” And any extra cost for making the products can be absorbed, as you can charge your costumers 40-70% more for this added value.Communication is vitally important for increasing sales on and before these special dates. Customers are on the hunt for unique products. So take advantage of their need state and offer them different options, such as customised products.Plan your calendar around the following: St David’s Day, Mother’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, St George’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, St Andrew’s Day! And don’t forget that Halloween is all about cakes for kids get them decorating their own scary creations!And finally, the Royal Wedding. Our advice is that it’s really not to be missed. What about a mini replica of the Royal Wedding cake, so consumers can feel part of the action, or William and Kate image cakes or cookie figures decorated in military and wedding dress?You could even run a competition to guess what style cakes and pastries the Royal couple eat on their wedding day.
Sales are up by 14% at Sunrise Bakery as the popularity of Caribbean food continues to grow. The West Midlands-based firm, which makes products such as traditional Caribbean hard dough breads, spiced buns, Bulla cakes and an African bread, has just expanded its business with Asda and Tesco.Celebrating its 45th year in business, the firm also launched a new premium product, Paradise Estates Caribbean Rum Cake, at the recent Rumfest event in London on 15-16 October. “It went down an absolute storm,” said MD Errol Drummond, adding it had already attracted the interest of two major retailers.The company, which began supply locally to businesses in the Black Country, now delivers across the UK, including to almost 300 independents, and has seen sales increase 14% over the past four years.Drummond told British Baker that the firm had just added another two lines to the five it already supplies Tesco, and had also extended its presence in Asda over the past three months.He said the bakery had seen growing demand for Caribbean products in the past few years, and believed food programmes and chefs, such as Levi Roots, had been a real influence on the popularity of these types of foods.Sunrise Bakery supplies own-brand products to 70 Asda stores and 15 Tesco stores.