A RECENT report published by Food from Britain (FFB), the market development consultancy for British food and drink companies, suggests there are significant opportunities for UK bakery and confectionery producers in the Gulf States.These countries not only contain large numbers of ex-patriates and tourists, but their high concentration in clusters means they can be effectively targeted through the many retail and foodservice outlets that specifically cater for them and the specialist distributors that serve this channel, the report says. Of the 700,000 expats in the area, made up of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, 150,000 are from the UK. The current value of UK food and drink exports to the Middle East is £337 million, “But with the right marketing and expertise, these exports could potentially be doubled in the next five years”, said Chris Brockman, FFB’s head of research and consultancy.
Management of retail bakery Three Cooks said they remain locked in rescue talks with administators after the chain collapsed last week.Administrators Tenon Recovery closed 37 loss-making sites after being called in on November 1, with around 250 job losses.The Solihull-based chain, which had 158 shops, said it appointed administrators because of a downturn on the high street.Chairman Geoff Peppiatt told British Baker Tenon accepted an offer from a team, which he is leading, to take over most of the former estate on November 3.A new chain, Cooks The Bakery, is to be formed out of 121 of the shops, saving 900 jobs.Details of the deal were being finalised, Peppiatt said. However, the new company has bought some of the intellectual property of Three Cooks, and will continue to refit shops. Three Cooks had been in the process of rolling out a new “Cooks” fascia and refitting stores when it went bust.The demise of Three Cooks will leave many bakery suppliers exposed as it bought in all its ranges and baked-off in-store rather than having its own bakeries.Software solutions supplier Alphameric has already written off £1m in the aftermath of the news. Allied Bakeries is also believed to be a supplier.Three Cooks was owned by RHM until 2003, when it sold non-core businesses. At that time the century-old chain had 250 stores.Analyst David Lang from Investec said: “The freeholds were sold by RHM before it sold off the chain. The new company was facing rising high street rents and changing eating patterns. It was seriously under the kosh.”Joint administrators Trevor Binyon and Steve Parker said they were delighted to save 900 jobs.
Holland’s Pies (Accrington, Lancashire), pie, pudding and savoury pastry manufacturer, is launching a range of family pies, including old favourites such as, Potato & Meat and Steak & Onion. The deep-filled pies are baked from frozen and are wrapped up in traditional Holland’s shortcrust pastry. Dawn Williams, senior brand manager at Holland’s, says: “We wanted to provide busy mums with a homely and filling family meal, which could be prepared quickly and easily.”
According to a recent report, Attitudes Towards Ethical Foods in the UK, conducted by consumer, media and market research supplier Mintel, three-quarters of British people believe that they have a duty to recycle. Julie Sloan, senior market analyst at Mintel says: “People in Britain today are clearly moving towards more ethical lifestyles and are starting to realise that their actions have consequences. In such a climate, many companies may be hoping to improve their profile by projecting a more ethical stance.”Chevler Packaging’s plastics division, one of the UK’s leading food packaging specialists, supplies sandwich and patisserie boxing to bakeries and supermarkets. Part of its operation includes reducing waste, which in turn helps to cut costs. Twenty-four per cent waste is typical after plastic products have been moulded, so Chevler trims off this excess, collects it and returns it to the supplier for recycling. As a result, some of the sheet PVC supplied to the company contains recycled material, says Norman Chase of Chevler.Dr Liz Goodwin, director of materials for WRAP, the Waste & Resources Action Programme, says: “In recent research conducted by WRAP, 79% of consumers said they would feel ’more positive’ about a brand or a manufacturer that uses recycled plastic.” WRAP is a major government-funded UK programme, established to promote resource efficiency, waste minimisation, reuse and recycling. WRAP’s research found that large amounts of rigid plastic were not being recycled in the baking industry and so it funded a six-month trial for Axion’s mobile plastics recycling unit to travel to different areas in the UK and shred bakery waste. In a matter of seconds, the unit is able to shred bulky bakery waste, such as plastic trays, crates, containers, ingredient tubs and bins, which have traditionally been too expensive to recycle because of transportation costs. The trial ran from August until the end of October. Axion is now trying to find someone else to take over the recycling unit.Alternatives to PVC and non-biodegradeable packaging materials are also of growing importance to the industry, as consumers become more environmentally friendly. Some Scandinavian countries are putting, or have already put, regulations in force that ban PVC packaging for food. Marks & Spencer moved away from using PVC products, which are derived from oil and are non-biodegradable. It uses recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) across its lunchtime ’Food to Go…’ range of fresh sandwiches, salads, juices and smoothies.Another alternative, to non-biodegradeable packaging materials includes packaging made from PLA, an environmentally-friendly thermoplastic polymer, made from corn starch, which is biodegradeable and often cheaper, as it is not derived from oil.Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakery, a chain of 44 shops located across north-west England, launched biodegradable packaging for its sliced bread sandwiches. According to the firm, the clear window is made from PLA, which degrades twice as fast as newspaper and three times as fast as wood, leaving no harmful residues.The coated board for the main body of the packs is Tecta, which is fully recyclable, and the inks for printing contain vegetable oils and natural resins. n
Meiko UK has added Disaperator food waste disposers to its range of warewashing appliances.The disposers have been designed around the need for quick and hygienic removal of food waste from preparation areas. The range, which includes bench-mount, sink bowl fitting, free-standing cabinet type and trough-mounted models, can be used in isolation or as part of Meiko’s ’MicroVac’ vacuum food waste removal systems.[http://www.meiko-uk.co.uk]
Visitors to Café+, the café, sandwich and coffee shop show organised by British Baker’s publisher William Reed Business Media (WRBM), will benefit from top business-building advice in an exclusive seminar.Shopper research retail consultancy him! will run a workshop which will help show attendees exploit all the opportunities available to them. Him! managing director Tom Fender said: “They might already have a successful café and be looking for ways to take it to the next level, or they may have a convenience store and want to develop a shop-within-a-shop concession. Him! will share some of its extensive experience.”Cafe+ also includes a Café+ Live area where visitors can attend workshops and see live demonstrations.Cafe+ will run alongside WRBM’s Convenience Retailing and International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment shows, at the Birmingham NEC from March 1-3 2009. Him!’s Cafe Future seminar will take place on 1 March.For more information, contact James Barker at WRBM on 01293 867621 or email [email protected]
Tesco opened its first Tesco Express outlet in October 2002 and now has 880. Not bad for six years’ work.The relevance to Greggs? Well, Greggs has a new man in charge, Ken McMeikan. He spent 14 years at Tesco and was a key figure in the glory days of the roll-out of its Tesco Express format in 2004, leaving afterwards for Sainsbury’s. That’s why McMeikan should be taken seriously when he promises an “escalation in growth” at Greggs, already the UK’s biggest takeaway chain with 1,403 shops – many more than McDonald’s or Starbucks. “We are a growth business and we need to set up in a way that we can accelerate this growth,” McMeikan insists.McMeikan is in the ideal position to do that; his prudent predecessors squirrelled millions away in company coffers and the business has zero debt.Growth opportunitySo what is the scale of his ambition? The old Greggs would reliably open around 50 new shops a year, towards a longer-term goal of 1,700 by 2010.McMeikan takes a bolder approach. He comments: “I have seen a significant opportunity for growth in the UK. We serve one million customers a day, there are over 60m people in the UK. There are parts of the country that do not have a Greggs or a Bakers’ Oven shop and towns and cities where we are under-represented. Customers love our products, but we need more locations.”Adding shop numbers is not difficult, he says. In fact, the economic downturn will make it easy. “I believe there is going to be an over-supply of bakery units available on the high street in the future and that the rentals market will soften. I don’t want to set artificial targets,” he says, explaining that location is what matters. “People can be driven to acquire shops for numbers’ sake. We want the right shops in the right locations – not shops that cannibalise existing trade. And we want the best deals on leases; we don’t want to lock into 10-year deals with five-year break clauses.”Greggs is also planning to look at the Irish market for the first time as it expands, although there is “no immediate rush”, he reveals. “There is significant growth opportunity in England, Scotland and Wales, but at some point in the year, we will go to meet with people on the ground in Ireland and understand the property market and which parts of the country are appropriate.”For now, it’s all about sorting out “operational challenges”. Even a business like Greggs has room for improvement.CompetitionAs British Baker’s 2009 Top 50 list shows, Greggs’ top spot on the list is under threat, as the 1,284-shop chain Subway plans to overtake it on store numbers by the middle of this year.Moreover, Greggs’ business structure, with 10 separate divisions, causes complications. At the moment, only 30% of Greggs’ range is the same nationwide, McMeikan wants that to be 80%, with 20% of the range still being regional. “We want to simplify it and make it consistent,” he says.Greggs is also converting Bakers’ Oven shops to the dominant Greggs brand and closing its 10 loss-making shops in Belgium, to focus on leadership in the UK.In addition, it will look at the way it serves customers, McMeikan adds. “Our loyal customers know we make sand- wiches fresh every day, and know if the product is not there, they can ask one of our staff to make it. We need to get that message across to everyone.”The tea and coffee offer is also being investigated. “We will offer great-tasting coffee, but cheaper than the competition – not £2, say £1.20,” he says. “I am able to bring a lot from my background in supermarkets and convenience stores. I understand how a world-class centralised business like Tesco operates, listens and reacts to customers in a way that is consistent across the whole estate,” he says.Sounds like McMeikan plans to keep Greggs top of the bakery retail tree for some time to come.
Flexibility seems to be the order of the day. The new Vemag dough divider line by Reiser claims to offer greater weight accuracy, versatility and adaptability to handle a range of breads, rolls, buns and English muffins.== Great, because I’m a tweak freak ==Then this is for you. The equipment is adjustable across exact-weight portion and crumb structure variations. Key to its accuracy and versatility is a unique, patented double-screw pumping system.== Sounds saucy ==It is if you’re into that sort of thing. Which we are. It comes in a variety of configurations to handle different dough and batter types, and bakers can rapidly exchange double screws from a model ideal for stiff, hard doughs, like bagels, to softer rolls such as English muffins.== I’m into big portions ==Portion sizes range from 5g to 20kg, at 1% standard deviation. The Vemag also uniformly spaces dough on the conveyor, eliminating doubles, ’tinkering’ time and waste. With the right spec, it allows up to eight lanes of product at 300 cuts per minute.== Whoa, 300 a minute?! I’m only a wee baker. That would suffocate my staff with dough within seconds ==Fair enough. For smaller, growing bakers, the Vemag 500 dough divider has the capacity to handle 60-100 portions per minute with all the same portion and crumb control specifications as the larger pieces of kit. The 500 can also be traded in for a larger HP model if required.
The Village Bakery, based in Minera, near Wrexham, is to see nine of its lines stocked in 11 Tesco stores in North Wales, after clinching a deal with the supermarket. The lines on offer include white and brown bread, barm cakes, fruit scones and tea cakes, and the firm has said it hopes to expand on the nine-strong range in the future.Mark Grant, Tesco senior buying manager for Wales, said it was a great opportunity to get locally produced products into its stores, in response to customer demand,“The Village Bakery came very highly recommended as a great bakery by one of our other suppliers in North Wales,” he added.“We are going with white and brown barm cakes, tea cakes, fruit scones and a couple of weeks later we are going to go with five different types of bread, three 800g loaves and two 400g loaves across white and brown.”Robin Jones, joint-MD of the Village Bakery, said he was “over the moon” about landing the Tesco contract.
Warrens Bakery staff have become the first to get a new-style qualification without spending time in the classroom, doing coursework, or exams.Forty-two of the Cornish company’s store managers and assistant managers have just finished an NVQ Level 2 course in Food Manufacture Retail and Service Support Skills, with assessment based only on observation by their managers.The course, developed by Cornwall College Business in conjunction with the food and drink sector skills council Improve, dovetails with Warrens’ internal training programme. It takes place on the job, and progress is recorded as employees carry out activities, or ’taskways,’ correctly on more than one occasion.Warrens’ eight area managers have been trained to teach and assess the NVQ. Senior area manager Andrew Cane said: “This qualification used to involve a lot of paperwork, which many employees were just not comfortable with. This is a million times better and we now just have to watch and ask questions.”Warrens’ Heamoor store manager Alistair Sedgeman added: “It felt like I was just assessed on what I normally do day-to-day. It has helped sharpen my skills.”Family-owned firm Warrens has 450 retail staff across 50 outlets and all will complete the course.