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Spar gives boost to Kindness sales

first_imgScottish wholesale and retail bakery Kindness Bakers says sales are up since it rebranded its two shops under the Spar fascia. The family bakery’s shops in New Deer and Maud Aberdeenshire, previously traded under the Mace fascia for 15 years, but have just officially launches as Spar. Sales have increased since the change due to an enhanced range, bakery manager Mark Kindness told British Baker.The shops sell a mix of products, baked in its wholesale bakery, as well as Spar lines supplied by Cuisine de France. Sales of general grocery lines, which include sandwiches and ready meals as well as the bakery range, have risen, he explained.”Spar is quite flexible to deal with, and I like the family atmosphere,” said Mr Kindness. “It has a strong own-label and that has been a good thing for us.”Kindess Bakers already supplies Spar on the wholesale side of it’s business, as well as other customers including retailer Somerfield. The company employs 55 people in its wholesale bakery adjoining its New Deer shop. It reaches customers spread between Elgin and Dundee, Mr Kindness said.Kindness Bakers joined Spar in October 2005 and both its stores have undergone re-branding since then. An interior refit is now in the pipeline, Mr Kindness added.last_img read more

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Strong growth at Asda

first_imgAsda painted a “pretty rosy picture” of its bakery department reporting 6.5% year-on-year value growth and 3% volume growth at the British Society of Baking’s Autumn Conference this week.Director Huw Edwards told over 70 delegates that the value of all three sectors at Asda was in growth, according to TNS figures. Morning goods sales were up 4%, cakes up 5.3% and bread up 9.7%. Volumes were also up, but growth was mainly due to “premiumisation” rather than volume.Edwards said a new Asda strategy of “every day low pricing” (EDLP) combined with targeted promotions was boosting sales. He commented: “We went a bit too purist on EDLP at one stage. We are maintaining a good price position combined with promotions. A balanced use of these mechanics has grown the business.”Edwards said Asda had seen 80% growth in its Extra Special range, with organics up 50%. Asda planned to “catch up and overtake” Sainsbury’s on organic.And he issued a rallying call to bakery suppliers to improve marketing of healthy wholegrain products.He commented: “We have not covered ourselves in glory on marketing. We have got to be better at informing our customers. You see acres of pictures of wholegrains in the States.”He added: “We have not got our share of voice when we compare ourselves with the (breakfast) cereals industry.”Edwards said Asda believes that the health trend has not reached its peak yet, singling out “localness” as another key trend.He said ranges were decided on a local store level: “We have had to take some tough decisions about national brands. We might only have two or three of them in a particular store because that is what is relevant. There are massive differences; it has been a great learning point for us.”In cakes Asda was focused on indulgence and portion control, for example selling two individual portions rather than a whole cake. Edwards said standard bought-in cakes sales were being hit and a “major market is being turned off” as local authorities ban cakes from children’s lunch boxes.On the morning goods side, there was strong growth but availability was an Achilles’ heel. The category was “very expandable”, Edwards said.last_img read more

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Baking in a war zone

first_imgIn 2001, following September 11, the Taliban’s refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda members paved the way for the US-led bombing campaign launched in Afghanistan, marking the beginning of the “war on terror”.This was the context into which Kevin Barke, owner of Barke Craft Bakery in Wickford, Essex, stepped, when he agreed to run an emergency bakery in Afghanistan, distributing daily loaves to 25,000 vulnerable Afghan families. His involvement in War Child’s Bakery Project began after his son saw an advertisement in British Baker, requesting volunteers. “One minute I was a baker in Essex, the next I was being given a radio and code words to learn,” he says. “We were taught about land mines and had to take six different routes to the bakery from our accommodation block so the Land Rover wouldn’t be tracked. If I messed up, as the only British baker there, 25,000 people would starve.”In January 2002, Barke travelled to Herat with War Child, a network of independent organisations working across the world to help children and families affected by war. His job was to run an emergency bakery with refugees and displaced Afghans, whom he had to train. Barke says that they were “more or less peasant farmers who hadn’t even seen machines”. But together, they eventually made 25,000 breads a day and, in the space of nine months, distributed about six million loaves.Barke arrived with a small team in northern Afghanistan, after a 10-hour journey in a huge Russian convoy. In the UN compound, there was a very large tent, in which Barke had to plan a bakery within minutes. “The compound had big UN letters on the top, so the Americans would not bomb us,” he says.There was no electricity, only generators. There was also no water, but after about five days, a well was dug. Barke could then start practising on his doughs to decide which type of bread to make. “I couldn’t get improvers,” says Barke, “and when I asked my refugee bakers, with the help of the translator, they thought I meant baking powder. Between us we came up with a kind of round, Iranian bread, like a soda bread, which didn’t need improvers. I sent the security guard to the city to ask the locals if it was good enough. They loved it, so we ran with it and it worked well. I was even told once that my bread was found on the black market after it had been stolen.”When exploring the bakeries in Afghanistan to see how they worked, Barke found there were a lot of “tiny” bakeries. He says: “They make something like naan bread. They dig a hole in the ground and put in large cylinder gas canisters to ignite the fire to bake on. These get really hot, then they slap the bread over the hole and it bakes in minutes. We couldn’t do this because my equipment was completely different.”The team had many problems, including condensation caused by the steam in the tent, which left water dripping everywhere. A person constantly had to mop. “You wouldn’t think about this in England,” says Barke. Other problems included broken generators and one day, before the well was dug, the water was stolen, which left 10,000 hungry. Although their target was to make 25,000 breads a day, the 10am-6pm curfew meant there were only two six-hour shifts instead of nine or 10 hours. “At first we could only manage 10,000 breads, so we had to do a night shift. This meant we could make bread continuously. If shift workers were late, I would not let the others go until they arrived. After about two weeks, the team was in full production. The ration for these people is one 400g loaf a day and that’s it. The World Food Programme says this is enough to keep them alive, so that’s what we did,” adds Barke.After the emergency bakery had gone, the equipment, which included two Italian spiral mixers, two Tom Chandley ovens with six decks and Mono dividers, stayed in Afghanistan, following a deal made with local bakers; they could keep the equipment if they gave half the produce made to schools and orphanages. Barke says one of his friends was there six months ago and reported that it was still running.While setting up a bakery in a war zone, Barke experienced many troubles. He says: “A bomb went off very close to me once and I had to go to casualty. Another time, when I thought I was leaving, my driver gave me an unexploded “ornament” that he thought I’d want to take home. I had to get the land mine experts out to blow it up!”The volunteers stayed in unarmed accommodation blocks with emergency bunkers. An electrical fence was going to be erected for protection, but this seemed pointless, as there were power cuts every night. In the meantime, Barke was also battling with Afghanistan’s winter, as temperatures dived to around -10ºC at night, and the men had to wear long johns and thermals as the heating did not work. “Despite all this,” says Barke, “the worst thing I remember was when a woman came up to me with an injured baby, begging for help. She assumed I was a paramedic. There was nothing I could do but try telling her where the Red Cross hospital was. I felt so pathetic. When I first got home, I was on top of the world. Then I had a bad time for a long period; I would get flashbacks and nightmares and a feeling of guilt because I thought I should still be out there, helping people.”Today, the issue of Afghanistan is still highly controversial, with 5,500 British troops deployed in the country. That figure is set to rise to 5,800 in October as part of an international operation to bring stability. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has warned that Afghanistan is at risk of becoming a “failed state”.The Bakery Project, headed by Barke, was funded partly by War Child and the rest was given in a grant of approximately £50,000 by the World Food Programme, a UN agency. “I’d love to do another Bakery Project,” says Barke.On 28 September, Barke is going to Kosovo with another aid convoy, distributing clothing, bedding, nursery supplies and food. It entails a long 3,000-mile round trip. “There’s no Bakery Project on at the moment,” says Barke. “We couldn’t find a sponsor. If there was, I’d do that. Setting up an emergency bakery was the most rewarding thing I’ve done. It’s one of those things you either do once – and not again – or you get the bug.” n—-=== At a glance ===Name: Kevin BarkeAge: 51Project: Setting up an emergency bakery in Afghanistan to feed 25,000 people affected by warNumbers: Over a period of nine months, the bakery distributed around six million loaveslast_img read more

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FWP Matthews

first_imgIndependent flour mill FWP Matthews (Chipping Norton, Oxon) offers a Cotswold Organic Crunch flour, containing organic wheat flour, organic malted wheat flakes and organic malted wheat. The firm’s range includes four organic white flours, three organic brown flours, three organic French flours and three other organic cereal flours.last_img

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Apprenticeship consultation

first_imgImprove, the sector skills council for food and drink, has started consultation with employers on plans for a new framework for apprenticeship programmes.”This will be a crucial reform,” said Jack Matthews, Improve’s chief executive, who added that completed apprenticeships in food and drink manufacturing subjects at Level 2 have more than doubled in the last two years from 332 to 668.But the numbers remain disappointingly small compared to other industries, where people complete apprenticeships in their thousands every year.At present, apprenticeships are available only in bakery, general food and drink manufacturing, and meat and poultry processing. The new proposals are to introduce one flexible framework, which can be adapted to meet the specific needs of any of the 10 sub-sectors within food and drink manufacturing, from dairy to brewing.Development work on the new apprenticeship framework will continue until September. .last_img read more

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Inter Link shares reach new low

first_imgShares in cake company Inter Link Foods fell after it issued a second profits warning in five weeks this week. Share prices fell from 179p to 80p after Inter Link said it would make an operating loss before inte-rest for the 12 months to April.”The own-label business is still suffering from the competitive market conditions that have prevailed for 18 months and the sales and margins previously anticipated for the final four months of the financial year have been revised downwards,” said the company in a statement.Shares in the AIM-listed company, which have tumbled over the last 12 months, were trading at 763p in March 2006.last_img

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Granting a golden opportunity?

first_imgThere are many times when a business may need money and advice and it’s estimated there are around £5 billion-worth of support grants and programmes you could tap into.However, each programme will have its own strict terms and conditions that apply to all applicants. These govern, for example, the use of the monies, what happens if the business stops trading and, if repayments are due, when they are to be paid. Expect demands for immediate repayment if the rules aren’t followed and you need to know that government grants are normally for projects that are at planning stage only.You may only get part of the money you need, as the organisation behind the assistance expects you to be able to match its commitment with your own money. The proportion you get will vary according to the funding programme.SourcesGrants and assistance programmes are made available by the government through the various departments, the European Union, various Regional Development Agencies throughout the UK, local authorities, local development agencies, Business Links, Chambers of Commerce and County Enterprise Boards. Some funding is also distributed through colleges and the Learning and Skills Council.There are 13 different types of grant and help available, inclu-ding cash, repayable grants, consultancy, subsidies, technology help and advice and information. The grants are channelled in various ways: some encourage investment in innovation, research and development and some are there to specifically help small businesses.Others help with training and skills through the Learning and Skills Council as well as the Business Links. If you want to employ New Deal candidates or training of young people, you may be able to get help from Jobcentre Plus.Age and inexperience needn’t be a barrier. Indeed, assistance and funds are available from The Prince’s Trust to those who may be unemployed, or employed in a part-time or low-paid job, are aged 18-30 and have a business idea.Grants are meant to stimulate business activity and this is the reason why a business based in an ’assisted area’ may be able to get extra grants if they can help with regional development, urban regeneration or an improvement in prospects for local employment.Find the grantsYou can find out much of the information online for nothing. However, some information is chargeable.Through the Business Links website, you can search through the Grants and Support Directory for nothing. There are several thousand national and local programmes available, at all levels, depending on what you want, where you are and so on.But there are also private sector agencies that provide information on available grants and can give assistance in applying for them. However, it is worthwhile searching online and comparing a few different agencies. Many of them charge a fee or subscription, but remember, none of them can guarantee success in getting funding for you.To find them, just go online and search for “support and grants”.The application processAssuming you have gone through the process of finding the grant you want to apply for, and making sure you qualify, you will want to make your proposal. But before you do, it might be worth making personal contact with the provider – you might pick up some tips. Remembering that you may have to put some of your own money up, you need to be able to show the specific purpose for the grant. Don’t start work before you’ve been given the green light on funding, as you’ll exclude yourself if you do. Also, heed any deadlines.If you need any advice when preparing your proposal, consider speaking to an adviser at a Business Link.You will have to provide a detailed description of the reason for the application, give an explanation of the benefits of the project, detail the plan and provide full financial data, provide details of your own experience and that of your (senior) colleagues, complete the application form and submit a business plan. The decision is not always quick and could take many months.Dealing with rejectionMany fail with their application the first time around. Asking the organisation concerned why you’ve been rejected will help you when you re-apply.Typically, the reasons why applications are turned down include:? the failure to prove the need for the money? providing information that is out of date? a failure to show that own funds are available? submitting a plan that is poorly written and produced? failure to show how the research you have done will turn into concrete working business? quoting any facts that are fanciful or unbacked? failure to show the importance of receiving funding; and that the application has been made to the wrong organisation.If you cannot get a grant, you may have to resort to other forms of finance, such as the traditional bank loan. Alternatively, you may want to consider selling shares in your business.Grant eligibilitySeveral points count towards eligi- bility for grants:? Location. Through regional economic variations, social and financial needs, businesses in some parts of the UK get extra grants. Further, to attract businesses or maintain employment in the local economy, some local authorities offer their own grants.? Size of business. The size of your business, in terms of either number of employees or turnover, may have a bearing on eligibility. A lot of grants are deliberately limited to small or medium- sized enterprises.? Type of industry. It shouldn’t be a surprise to know that government and local authorities wish to encourage certain industry sectors, while they feel others do not need any assistance. Also, the European Commission places limits and checks on the help that some sectors receive.? Purpose. Grants are invariably awarded for a specific purpose, such as buying plant and equipment, improving work areas or developing export markets. Other uses will be barred. nlast_img read more

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Lightbody performance is ’ahead of expectations’

first_imgFinsbury Food Group, which acquired Lightbody in February, will pay the vendors the maximum deferred consideration payment of £8.7m, as a result of an “excellent performance”.Lightbody is “ahead of expectations”, with the Thorntons’ branded cake range “particularly positive”, according to a trading update released last week.Chief executive, Dave Brooks, told British Baker that as part of the post-acquisition plan, the integration of Coatbridge-based California Cakes into the Lightbody of Hamilton site is due to start this month.Brooks said trading has “remained strong in all subsidiaries” of the group, including its premium and celebration cakes, low-fat slices and speciality, organic and gluten-free breads.Sales for Memory Lane Cakes have grown by 10% year-on-year, with bread bakery Nicholas and Harris up 17%. The turnover of the Scottish cake businesses of California Cakes and Campbells Cakes are up a combined 28% for the 32 weeks to June 2007.United Central Bakeries, which was severely damaged by fire in October 2006, is now close to returning to full production and lines for potato scones and yum yums were now complete.last_img read more

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viewpoint

first_imgAllied Bakeries is restructuring into eight regional business units – it makes a lot of sense, economically and of course environmentally. Supplying more products locally will save on food miles and allow for regional variations (pg 4).It is the shape of things to come as the environment moves from the back burner to take centre stage. Changes will not happen overnight, but sooner rather than later. I predict all bread and cakes will soon be in recyclable packaging, while standard polythene and plastic packaging will be out – permanently.But there are so many issues to balance that a lot of headaches are bound to result. As one delegate to the Federation of Bakers Conference said last week: “Do you go for fresh and recyclable or long-life and preservable?”It is a similar argument with ingredients. Do you use salt, sugar and fat as natural preservatives or do you reduce them where possible and accept a shorter shelf-life? But if that necessitates more deliveries, it in turn increases food miles. There are many dilemmas to be resolved and most delegates hoped that no-one would leap in with a publicity-grabbing snap decision on a single solution because none exists.Also high on the agenda this week is folic acid (pg 6 and 19). To add or not to add? That question has been decided. The answer was a resounding ’yes!’ But at the next FSA board meeting in mid-June the important issue of mechanics will be decided: namely at what stage should it be added and to what?Most delegates I spoke to at the conference want it added to white and brown flours (not wholemeal). This is the simple solution because it will be added at the same time as the present mandatory fortifications of calcium, iron, thiamine and niacin.Adding it to all flours will cause problems with separate feeders and some mixes. But the conference also brought illumination in the person of Professor Robert Pickard, director general of the British Nutrition Foundation, who pointed out that folates are most important at conception and the first month of pregnancy when most people do not even realise they are pregnant. Also 10% of British women have difficulty recycling (metabolising) folate in their bodies. This is the nub of the argument for adding folic acid.last_img read more

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Top toasters: Panda-faced toast

first_imgAlways at the forefront of toaster technology, Japan has once again come up trumps with Sega Toys’ Pa toaster. If you squint, it looks a bit like a cartoon panda. This marvel hits the market in June. Can you wait?last_img

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