For bakers who are unable to bake cookies from scratch, McDougalls Cookie Mixes from RHM (Reading) are described as quick and easy to use and deliver a ‘home-made’ taste.McDougalls has introduced an oat cookie mix to complement its plain and chocolate varieties, which produces cookies that are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Oat Cookie Mix contains 26% oats, and is targeted at health conscious customers. It should be mixed slowly with cold water for one minute and the cookies baked for 9-11 minutes for a chewy texture or 13-15 minutes for a crunchy one.
Gerard NelsonBaker PerkinsGerard Nelson has been appointed global sales manager for Baker Perkins’ range of equipment for the biscuit and cracker industries. He joins the company from an Italian capital equipment manufacturer, where he was responsible for managing a network of distributors and agents in South America, Europe, India and the Middle East. Baker Perkins supplies equipment ranging from mixers to sandwiching machines.Peter YoungPhoenix Retail ServicesAs the new UK distributor for Trimco retail and catering refrigeration products, made in Portugal, Phoenix Retail Services has appointed Peter Young as area sales manager for the north of England, Wales and the Midlands. Young has over 36 years’ experience in the commercial refrigeration business, having worked for original UK distributor Trimco Coolair.Lynne WilsonCereformLynne Wilson has been promoted from logistics manager to sales manager, speciality products at bakery ingredients company Cereform. Her role will cover the company’s specialist blending service, soya flour and cooked grain and cereal products. Wilson has 15 years’ experience in the baking industry, initially employed with Spillers Premier Products, which subsequently became Dalgety SSP and then Kerry SSP. This firm was acquired by Associated Foods and became Cereform in 2003.Sandy Tchilinguirian, Mark WalshHoneytop Speciality FoodsInnovations controller is the new role at speciality foods supplier Honeytop, filled by former food technologist and development manager Sandy Tchilinguirian, who will head up the company’s new product development division. Tchilinguirian previously worked as development manager at La Fornaia and, in her new role, she will be responsible for all aspects of product development.Also new to the ethnic breads producer is Mark Walsh, also in a new role as sales account manager. Walsh has over seven years’ experience in sales and customer relations and joins the firm from drinks company Inbev UK.Vic ColemanISA Commercial Refrigeration (UK)Vic Coleman has joined ISA Commercial Refrigeration as technical manager, joining the company from Blighline, where he held the same title. He will provide technical support to end users, distributors and agents across the UK for the full range of ISA and Tasselli refrigerated display equipment.
I was dismayed to read in recent copies of The Telegraph (7 August) and Yorkshire Post contentious plans from the Communities and Local Government Committee to allow councils to levy a supplementary rate of tax of up to 10%.It is completely unacceptable that government should seek to pass on costs to businesses for infrastructure improvements that should be funded centrally. Since the Unified Business Rate was set centrally, the rate of increase has at least been restricted to annual inflation rates. Further revenue is gained via the rating system, due to rate revaluations held every five years. For high street shops this has been very significant, due to escalating rents as property values are chased ever-higher.There is comment on business having representation but, in practice, people running businesses do not have the time to haggle with local councils, who have endless hair-brained schemes to dispose of our hard-earned money.How can any benefit to retailers be measured? It will simply be just another tax on our businesses. This proposal, if allowed to proceed, will further add to the demise of the high street with small and medium-sized retailers still reeling from the effect of high rents, increases in minimum wages, energy costs and regulation.We need the National Association of Master Bakers and all other small shop associations to lobby hard against these measures, including the All-Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, chaired by Jim Dowd MP in the House of Commons.
For some, looking for government support – whether in grants, tax incentives or simply advice and training opportunities – has something of a stigma about it. That is, until they see who else is already benefiting from this type of support.For those in the know, it is a sign that a business can look after itself, rather than the opposite. Too often, it is larger companies that have the resources to research and administer these opportunities. But then they are likely to derive proportionately less benefit from them than their smaller competitors. In these tougher economic times, businesses of all types and sizes should familiarise themselves with the options.The past few years have seen large numbers of food and drink businesses benefit from European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) finance under the Objective One programme. This applied to EU regions where deprivation was considered particularly high and, in many cases, it supported expansion and investment in new equipment. But with new finance under Objective One no longer available, is it time to bid Adieu to European funding?Far from it. Where there was an Objective One, Objective Two is sure to follow. This new EU treasure chest was opened in 2007, and the programme is due to run to 2013. It applies to the English regions, with other parts of the UK running their own programmes (see ERDF website). Anona Vazquez-Masson, head of ERDF programmes at the Department for Communities and Local Government, explains: “The focus is on competitiveness and employment, administered through the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) rather than government offices. The approach taken by each of the RDAs is very different, with some looking at fewer, bigger projects.”This should not deter smaller business, she says, since many of these umbrella projects combine different elements, and targeted business support for SMEs is central to programme objectives. This could include training in business skills (although training is also catered for in the European Social Fund, she points out), communications, marketing and R&D. What are called the ’Lisbon priorities’ mean that at least 75% of resources are aimed at promoting competitiveness and creating jobs.So, for instance, for Yorkshire, key phrases in the current programme are “sustainable knowledge economy”, “innovation and technology transfer” and “dynamism and entrepreneurship”. One of the priority areas, supporting and stimulating successful enterprise, aims to remove barriers for start-ups and boost the number of SMEs.Nor do EU-funded (or co-funded) options stop there. Selective Finance for Investment in England (SFIE) is a completely separate fund, this time distributed unevenly around the various RDAs by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR). Here, the minimum grant is £10,000 and there is no maximum. Support can range from 7.5% of capital expenditure to 50%. Not only does implementation of the fund vary from region to region, but within regions, eligibility can also be something of a “postcode lottery”, says Warwick-based broker Bell Finance.One happy (and initially surprised) recipient of an SFIE grant was Lewis’s Bakery in Birmingham. MD Simon Lewis explains that he originally approached Bell for asset finance. “I had equipment I wanted to buy, and they suggested looking at obtaining a grant,” he says. “We approached the Advantage West Midlands RDA, and Bell Finance drew up a business plan.” This included profit and loss forecasts.Adrian Thompson, grants advisor at Bell, comments: “All of this can be a daunting process for the client. There’s also a 24-page application form, so by the time you’ve finished, it’s a box file.” He adds: “Most of our clients need us simply to provide communication services between them and the civil servants who monitor the schemes.”Costly processApplying for a grant is no guarantee of receiving one, however, and application procedures can be lengthy and costly. One form of insurance here is to carry out a more streamlined pre-application. Thompson says: “In some cases the RDA insists on a pre-application, but we put one together in any case as a matter of course.”Eligibility criteria vary from region to region. “Some RDAs have target areas, such as high-tech industries,” he says. “You need to be able to demonstrate that yours is a sector that has suffered because of external factors. Any planned expansion needs to be about new people being employed, not the existing workforce being displaced, otherwise this is classed as ’unfair competition’.” And overall, the non-competitive nature of the venture is of paramount importance. “Unless it is a unique offering, the case collapses.”In the case of Lewis’s, the application resulted in a grant of £46,000 in two tranches, as part of a £256,000 project. The “uniqueness” and “non-competitive” criteria were met by the fact that the business was planning to diversify into more artisanal and European-style stone-baked breads, such as focaccias and ciabattas. “We worked out that the nearest competitor was at least 50 miles away,” says Lewis. “They also liked the fact that it was value-added, with healthier margins.”While brokers will typically charge fees and 10% or so of any funding they successfully bid for, free advice is available through the Business Link network. This is organised regionally and, once again, opportunities will vary depending on location. In some cases, a Resource Efficiency Diagnostic can set the ball rolling by identifying areas for improvement. Business Link can also advise on funding such as SFIE, and has close relationships with the Manufacturing Advisory Service, Train to Gain and UK Trade & Investment. It is certainly worth having an open-ended conversation with your local Business Link.Energy efficiency loanThese days, energy efficiency is an economic, as well as an environmental, imperative for the bakery business. But the Carbon Trust can offer even greater incentives. One option is an energy efficiency loan, only available to SMEs with under 250 employees. Here, energy bills are not a criterion for eligibility, but the focus is on replacing or upgrading existing equipment with more energy- efficient alternatives.Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) are also available to companies applying for loans. As part of this scheme, the Trust manages the Energy Technology List (ETL) of energy-saving equipment, and products claimed for under the ECA scheme must be on the List. Businesses can claim 100% first-year capital allowances on these technologies. The Trust cites the example of a company paying 30% corporation tax. Every £1,000 spent on equipment from the ETL would reduce its tax in that year by £300. This contrasts with the generally available capital allowance of £75 for plant and machinery.With its focus on packaging and food waste, the Defra-funded Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) offers other opportunities. As well as advice on sustainability issues, WRAP publishes tenders for part-funded projects. Tenders are published on the WRAP website, and remain open for seven weeks from the date of publication, says retail programme manager Mike Robey. In June, tenders were due to be published inviting proposals for projects in two areas. The first of these relates to the way product is sold in-store. “We want to look at innovative ways of merchandising premium products without the need for additional layers of packaging,” says Robey. The second is aimed at the development of reusable packaging systems. “Often, smaller companies are the most innovative,” explains Robey. “But we need to ensure that there is a route to wider take-up. We’re particularly keen to see joint proposals from companies with similar issues or from different parts of the supply chain.”Useful contacts[http://www.erdf.communities.gov.uk][http://www.carbontrust.co.uk][http://www.wrap.org.uk/wrap_corporate/tenders][http://www.berr.gov.uk/regional/][http://www.businesslink.gov.uk]—-=== Scotland and Wales ===Scotland is helping to support its SMEs with the Small Business Bonus Scheme, launched in April this year. This will save companies up to £75m in business rates in the first year, says the Scottish Government, and up to £165m once full discounts come into force.Some 150,000 businesses are eligible, but they need to apply to join the scheme. At the launch, it was estimated that a shop with a rateable value of £5,150 would save £1,200 in the current year and potentially £1,650 in 2009.When it comes to EU funding, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and Scottish Government (www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry) administer their shares separately. WAG says it has simplified its system (or at least access to it), via a single website, [http://www.business-support-wales.gov.uk].
Keeping an eye out for bakery coverage in the national press involves a depressing wade through half-baked (sorry!) bakery puns. We sometimes fail to resist the temptation to rise to the occasion ourselves (sorry again!). So the time has come to regularly monitor, name and shame the worst offenders here in Stop the Week.We kick things off with last week’s breaking rumour that Wayne Rooney was to be the new £150,000 face of Hovis’ TV ads. The Daily Mirror, having imaginatively mocked up a pic of Rooney in a flat cap, tripped up in front of an open goal. “Wayne Rooney is heading yeast to make a new fortune – by helping relaunch Hovis loaves,” strained journalist John Harkin, before quickly tiring of his theme.Not exactly renowned for its punning prowess, The Guardian opted for the yawn-inducing “Rooney advertising Hovis? Use your loaf”.The Times’ Caitlin Moran thankfully steered clear of puns, but offered these less-than-flattering words about the campaign, which is said to feature key moments in British history over the last 100 years: “The underlying message here is that a century of Britons eating vast quantities of industrially manufactured, pre-sliced bread has resulted in Wayne Rooney.” Ouch.
Ready salted crisps are no longer the nation’s favourite flavour, as cheese & onion has now taken the top spot. The market for cheese & onion crisps is worth £256m, according to Mintel research, with sales having increased an impressive 15% in the last two years. Valued at £244m in 2006, ready salted crisps have slipped into second place, despite an increase in sales of 5% over the same two-year period.Meanwhile, sales of the classic salt & vinegar and prawn cocktail flavours both fell by 7% between 2006 and 2008, while sales of the beef variety grew over 10% during the same period.Yet traditional flavours are not falling from favour, said Mintel. “Despite the ongoing development of new and exciting flavours, the traditional favourites still win hands-down,” said senior market analyst Emmanuelle Bouvier. “In fact, cheese & onion, ready salted and salt & vinegar still account for almost two-thirds of sales of standard crisps.”
Pork Pie manufacturer Pork Farms is seeking voluntary redundancies for up to 90 of its 300 employees.The Nottinghamshire-based firm said the job losses at its Queens Drive factory were a necessity, due to the adverse affects of the recession and a change in working practices. The company has announced it has now entered a 30-day consultation period.Pork Farms said it has been discussing its required staffing levels to run the business for the short, medium and long term, with its representatives from Unite T&G for some time. The discussions were to “help us to optimise the capacity at the factory and put Queens Drive in a strong position for the future”.It added: “The completion of the commissioning of our £11m investment in the infrastructure and equipment at Queens Drive, together with improved working processes, has released significant capacity into the factory.”
Sainsbury’s 400 in-store bakeries are now using 100% British flour, sourced with the help of farming co-operative Camgrain, announced the supermarket.Following work with Camgrain on converting its flour, the switch has been completed a year ahead of Sainsbury’s target.Sainsbury’s claimed it is now the only supermarket to source all its flour for its in-store bakeries from UK farms, offering full traceability. Beginning its work with Camgrain last year, the supermarket has now extended its contract with the co-operative until 2011.”Providing customers with freshly baked bread through- out the day, using quality ingredients, is at the core of our in-store bakeries,” said Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King.”The provenance of those ingredients is a key issue for us and our customers, and in completing our conversion to 100% British flour we’re able to establish an efficient and traceable UK food chain, which underpins our commitment to British farmers.”Camgrain has just opened a new grain storage and drying facility near Cambridge, which was planned for 2012, but increased demand pushed the completion date forward.
British Baker will no longer be sold at newsagents from the end of September.The last issue through newsagents will be 24 September. Distribution through the National News Wholesale Network is no longer viable for the magazine.However, bakers currently ordering their copy through newsagents will still be able to receive British Baker through subscription.By taking out a subscription British Baker will be delivered free to your door every fortnight. The cost for a year’s issues (25 copies) will be £59, saving £14.75 on the cost through your newsagent of £73.75.To subscribe please call 0800 6526512 now and quote code: ’NEWS3’ for the discount.
Pret A Manger revealed plans to open another 44 stores this year, after new shop openings in 2011 helped boost its profits by 14%.In its annual results, the sandwich chain announced profits were just over £52m, with sales up 15%, last year, to £377.3m.The move to open new stores would create around 550 jobs. However, the firm said 20 of the planned new stores would be overseas.Talking on BBC Breakfast this morning (3 April), Clive Schlee, chief executive, said growth over the past year was down in part to new store openings.The firm opened two stores in Paris, under the Pret name, earlier this year, which have been performing well, and the chain also plans to open a shop in a fourth US city – Boston.He added that the proposed hot food tax would not affect Pret, as it already pays VAT on its soups and toasted sandwiches etc.