Allied Bakeries has closed its Reading bakery, which once employed 196 staff, following a strategic review of its UK bakery operations.The company shut the distribution depot and manufacturing plant on the Viscount Way site last month, and it closed the remaining plant this week.The decision to close was “regrettable but necessary as the Reading site is not suitable for future development,” Allied Bakeries said in a statement. It needed to move production to sites which are bigger and have greater capacity, it said.A consultation process with employees on the closure began in November 2005.Allied said: “This has not been an easy decision and in no way reflects the efforts and commitment of our employees at the site.” Allied Bakeries thanked employees for their support.
Two weeks ago, one of Ireland’s leading proponents of artisan breads moved to a new and much larger bakery in Cork city, which he hopes will allow him to continue expanding.Declan Ryan, owner of the Arbutus Breads bakery, has shifted from his previous premises in the smart Cork suburb of Montenotte to a brand new 230sq m (2,500 sq ft) unit on an industrial estate at Mayfield, about 10 minutes drive away. Arbutus Breads was originally set up in September 1999, after the upmarket Arbutus Lodge hotel in Montenotte, which Mr Ryan ran with his family, was sold. He recalls that it closed its doors on a Saturday and that, the following Monday morning, his new bakery was already up and running. The original Arbutus Breads started life in a converted two-car garage on Mr Ryan’s own estate in Montenotte. At that time, it had one employee and deliveries were carried out in Mr Ryan’s jeep after baking. He was in a good position to establish a bakery. Having originally trained as a chef, he also studied at the L’École Française de Boulangerie d’Aurillac in 1996. And, during his time in the hotel, he was renowned for his innovative dishes.Now, he is deeply involved with the artisan bread movement in Ireland and is a strong advocate for craft baking; he is on the academic council at the National Bakery School in Dublin and is also a member of the artisan forum at the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. Arbutus Breads makes a variety of products, including West Cork soda bread, rye and wholemeal, New York-style sourdough, white sourdough, spelt yeast breads and several continental styles. Speciality breads include a walnut and red wine variety. Mostly, traditional French flour is used, but the bakery also uses organic flour and traditional stone-ground Irish flours. Oatmeal comes from Macroom Mills in Co Cork, which roasts the husks before milling to give a unique flavour.Growing customer baseIn all, the bakery supplies about 25 regular customers, from deli owners and market-based retailers to catering outlets. But now the move to the new premises is complete, Mr Ryan hopes to broaden that customer base. About 50% of sales go through delicatessen outlets in the Cork area, a further 25% through the restaurant trade and the remaining 25% through markets, which give a much wider geographical coverage. Arbutus now supplies weekly markets in places such as Kenmare, Co Kerry and Ennis, Co Clare. And one of the best fresh food markets in Ireland – the English Market in Cork city centre, which is the biggest single customer of the bakery – is almost on his doorstep. Arbutus also supplies the Neal’s Dairy Yard shops in London. Good connectionsSo far, Arbutus has developed its customer base without having a website for the bakery and Mr Ryan has no immediate plans to change that situation. But having good connections with many food writers, in Ireland and internationally, does help. Demand for the products has grown so much, that the bakery now employs four full-time bakers and two full-time van delivery people. “There’s no longer any room for me in the bakery,” he quips.The maximum daily output in the present bakery is 900 loaves a day. Of his breads, leading Irish food critics John and Sally McKenna have said that Mr Ryan bakes “probably the best bread in Ireland”. In their estimation, his top bread line is the wholemeal sourdough loaf, closely followed by a rye and caraway sourdough. “We’ve set up the bakery to do artisan breads. We want it to be like a small French-style bakery rather than an industrial bakery,” says Mr Ryan. Virtually all the equipment that has gone into the Mayfield bakery is new and any equipment being transferred from the old bakery is almost new, as he has always had a policy of trading-up to new machinery whenever possible. One of the ideas that Mr Ryan wants to try in the new bakery is baking boxes of mixed rolls for restaurants, so that they can get a selection of three, four or five different kinds of roll all in the same box. He also says he will probably start doing par-baked rolls for restaurants and hotels.On May 10, the brand new E150 million terminal at Cork Airport is due to open and Arbutus Breads has won a contract to supply artisan breads there. The airport management has planned to build a shopping area in the new terminal that will recreate the atmosphere of Cork’s English Market. So Mr Ryan and his team have worked flat out to get the new bakery up and running in good time.
Bakery equipment supplier RH Hall is moving to a new 23,000sq ft headquarters in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.There are plans to install a development kitchen at the site, which will showcase equipment and also become the Southern base for the Food Development Association (FDA). Opening in April, it will hold regular baking events and demonstrations.MD Ray Hall said the new HQ, close to the current site, would provide more office space for increasing staff numbers and greater warehousing. He added that this would enable the firm “to meet plans for continued expansion and increased product range holding”.
Asda says its fresh bakery sales are up after a high-profile advertising campaign, featuring its in-store bakeries, started last week.A new fly-on-the-wall TV advertising campaign shows comedienne Victoria Wood, working in the in-store bakery at the Boldon store in South Tyneside.Bakery director Huw Edwards told British Baker that Asda is “very pleased” with the campaign, and sales are now very strong across the fresh baked department.The advert puts out the message that Asda has more to offer than low prices and that skilled Asda bakers bake fresh bread in its stores throughout the day, he said.Edwards commented: “We have always known we do well at bakery, and we are using the campaign to tell customers what we do. It’s about showing customers that we bake fresh and we have got expert colleagues out there. It’s really making a public statement. Fresh bread is available on the hour, every hour, from 8am to 8pm.”To hammer home the point, a brass ship’s bell is now being rung in-store every time fresh bread comes onto the shelves.The new adverts also see Asda’s ’More for you for less’ and ’Asda Price’ slogans replaced with the new strapline, ’There’s no place like Asda’.Edwards added that Asda had just made a “spring refresh” to its bakery range, with increased emphasis on healthy and extra special breads in the packaged breads area. New packaged organic cakes and Extra Special McVities cakes have been introduced, as well as a series of new products in the in-store bakery department. These include new 100g super cookies, supplied by BakeMark, priced at £1.28, in flavours including strawberries and cream. A new large, light fluffy Berliner-style doughnut has also been introduced, as has an additional range of deep-fill large plate fruit pies, in flavours including Morello cherry and strawberry and rhubarb.Asda also plans to bring back organic in-store bakery lines, revealed Edwards. It has one in-store bakery organic bread product and plans to extend the range soon.
Buxton Spa Bakery has seen control of the family-owned company pass to a third generation, following a management buyout.Chairman Peter Higgins retired and handed over full control of the £5 million turnover business to his son, the current MD, Mike Higgins, who said he plans to focus on developing the business’ range of luxury, premium products. “We are now implementing a strategy to target further growth in our own-label operations and will continue to secure opportunities for our Holmfield Bakery brand,” he added.Buxton Spa Bakery employs 120 people and produces over a million own-label cakes for supermarkets and convenience stores.including Morrisons, Co-op and Tesco. It also owns the Holmfield Bakery brand which supplies Aldi, Somerfield, Nisa and Kwik.The management buyout deal was led by Jeff Barber of McInnes Corporate Finance and was funded through Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance.
Lion Capital, a UK-based private equity firm, has agreed to acquire a 32% stake in Swiss bakery firm The Hiestand Group.Hiestand is an international provider of convenience deep-frozen bakery products in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Poland, Malaysia, Japan and Turkey. Lion Capital is acquiring 170,000 shares of Hiestand.”Hiestand is a leading player in the most attractive sub-sector of the bakery market,” said Lyndon Lea, partner of Lion Capital. “We are tremendously excited to make this investment.”Based in London, Lion Capital owns brands such as Weetabix and Vaasan & Vaasan.
Beyond the Bean launched the latest addition to its range – a ready-to-drink fruit smoothie – at the show.The Sweetbird range is avai-lable in three flavours – orange & mango, pineapple & passion fruit and blackberry & blueberry.The smoothies come in 100% recyclable PET bottles, with no artificial colours, preservatives, genetically-modified ingredients or flavourings. The drinks only require ambient storage, so are suitable for businesses without much chilled storage space.The company also launched two new cookies – a chocolate dotty cookie aimed at children and a fat-reduced orange and ginger crunch cookie.
The Bakery School, a web-based online resource tool, went live on 31 May.The site, set up by fomer bakery tutor Jean Grieves and retired baker Albert Waterfield, contains 40 modules, divided into three main categories – ingredients, processes and methods and problem solving. Each module gives detailed information, complete with diagrams and photographs, and includes a multiple-choice exam, as well as a printable certificate.It aims to provide in-depth knowledge in areas including ingredients, techniques and processes and has been designed so that employees can maximise the potential of their workforce.An annual licence for the site – which includes one password and username – costs £250. Multiple rates are negotiable. Profits will be reinvested in the business, and further modules developed.
HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) recently launched Business Payment Support Service (BPSS) has already enabled 25,000 businesses to delay paying more than £429m worth of tax, according to the government. The service, launched in November 2008, gives businesses the opportunity to pay all their HMRC taxes, including PAYE, National Insurance Contributions and VAT, through timetables they can afford. It was set up to help those in business or who are self-employed, and who are experiencing temporary financial problems.Financial Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Timms MP has urged businesses facing financial difficulty to speak to an HMRC adviser. “A short phone call could save hard working businesses time and money,” he said.A total of 44,500 phone calls have been received since the service’s launch, from businesses wanting advice, or requesting a ‘time to pay’ arrangement. The BPSS can be contacted on 0845 302 1435 from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 4pm at weekends, or for more information visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/pbr2008/business-payment.htm.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has unveiled the first raft of its recommendations for reducing saturated fat and added sugar in bakery products, following its consultation last summer.It is encouraging the food industry to reduce saturated fat in biscuits, cakes and buns, as well as increase the availability of smaller portion sizes. The FSA has announced a specific target to reduce the saturated fat content in plain sweet and savoury biscuits, and plain cakes by at least 10%; and 5% in non-plain biscuits and cakes, compared to the level of saturated fat in those products during 2008.Further recommendations on pastry, savoury snacks, meat products and dairy will follow early in the summer.The recommendations are focused on those products that the FSA has identified as contributing the most to saturated fat and calories in the diet. However it said it recognises the progress already made by some businesses on reducing saturated fat and added sugar, and also that “there are a number of traditional/niche/seasonal products for which recipes and means of production may limit the scope for reformulation”.To view the recommendations in more detail click here.Saturated Fat Reduction Round Table, May 6th 2010 – a free event for food and drink manufacturers and retailers. >> Find out more about this event