Bakehouse (Bagshot, Surrey) has launched mini versions of its All-Butter, Chocolate and Almond Croissants. Ideal for sharing and multipacks, the Mini Croissants are made near Lille, France. The company uses a long dough resting system, which gives a light, open dough structure with a rich, buttery flavour. The croissants bake from frozen in 15 minutes.
n Skills sector council Improve will launch its new interactive website on June 28, offering modules in bakery which count towards level 2 and 3 NVQ. They can be completed online with tutor support at a cost of between £30 and £290 each.n British Bakeries has suspended deliveries to retail chain Kwik Save. It is understood that the decision follows “payment problems”. Parent company Premier said it was unable to comment on commercial agreements. Deliveries of cigarettes, chilled and frozen goods are also understood to be experiencing disruption.n A pensioner has won a battle to open Scotland’s first Maltese bakery. Sebastian Saliba, 69, won permission to open the traditional pastizzeria in a garage next to his home in Cruden Bay, Buchan, despite local opposition to the extra traffic the outlet would attract. He plans to bake and sell pastizzi, a traditional Maltese cheesecake with a ricotta, pea or meat filling.n Taking folic acid supplements reduces the risk of stroke by 18%, according to a large study published in The Lancet last week. The findings also suggest that mandatory fortification of flour, currently being considered by the Food Standards Agency, could reduce death rates from strokes.n Two career criminals who burgled a number of East Lancashire businesses, including Oddies bakeries, have each been jailed for two years. Burnley Crown Court heard how drug addicts Paul Ludlam, 34, and Keith Kavanagh, 40, decided to target commercial premises rather than houses.
The phrase “real men don’t eat quiche” emerged in the early 1980s as the title of a book on stereotypes about masculinity. It could perhaps be rewritten as a tagline for Giles Foods as “real bakers don’t bake quiche”. Or, at a stretch, “real bakers don’t make any money from supplying quiches to supermarkets”. But then we’re getting silly.The Milton Keynes-based firm built a successful business supplying major retailers with quiche, then jacked it all in to go off and make artisan-style breads, pastries and tarts. Giles ditched its quiche business in 2006, dismayed by the way quiches had become devalued and commoditised in the market.The quiche business was turning over £18.5m when it was sold in January 2006. “It got to the state that, no matter how much turnover you’ve got, you’re not making any money. So we washed our hands of it. We’re not commodity players,” says sales and marketing director David Marx.Quiche had been a wonderful growth product through the 1990s, he recalls, before the market changed. “It was growing at 9… 10… 15% a year, and it was good solid retail business. But think about it: you’re putting in cream, egg, butter, flour, bacon – expensive stuff. The proper margins got completely killed, and you could buy two for £2.50 in retail.” Consumers, he noted, would buy them on offer, eat one and freeze one. “And a quiche coming out of the freezer is pretty tacky – horrible,” he points out.So, having been driven down in price, people wouldn’t buy them again and, as prices eroded, volumes declined, setting off a vicious spiral of lowering prices to get the volume back. Ironically, Marx now says the quality in the market is coming back up to the level of the late 1990s – though whether anyone is making any money, given the commodities climate, is another matter.But selling the quiche business was not the only upheaval the business has seen in the last decade. In 1997, fire completely destroyed its operations. Says Marx: “I’ve been with the business 11 years and, when I joined, we were producing quiche, garlic bread and party foods, very successfully. However, seven months after I joined, the whole place burned down!”Undeterred, MD David Rixon and Marx started over, ploughing the insurance payout back into creating a 12,000sq ft facility in Telford, with the support of existing customers such as Safeway.Once it got the quiche business up and running, Somerfield came on board as a garlic breads customer and, very quickly, bigger premises were needed. So Giles bought a unit in Milton Keynes specifically for producing quiches. When it exited the quiche market, Giles shifted focus on to breads, building on the Pan Artisan breads business it founded in 2000, and which accounted for a third of turnover (the rest being quiche).== Taking a calculated risk ==The bread business was shifted from Telford to Milton Keynes, where it has two pods – one to bake breads and the other to add value, such as with garlic breads. Now the transition from quiche to bread has completed, they’re treating this year as ’year 3’ of a new business start-up.Everything was going swimmingly before the commodity cost hikes hit home last year, for which Giles had to go twice to market for price rises. “The last year has been tough,” he admits. “Garlic bread? Butter? Flour prices doubled! We had to take massive views on risks, we really did. The easy way out is to drop your quality and offset the prices, but one thing we were not prepared to do was compromise on quality. We’ve done our very best to shave overheads, though, so we’ve had some fun in the past year!”What has cushioned the crunch has been a healthy balance between foodservice, retail and wholesale business. Giles doesn’t want to be swamped by high volumes; instead, Marx wants to build progressive, steady growth.”Each year, we take on more and more volume, but you always have to think, how could we automate?” he muses. “So, from day one, we’ve kept putting the money back into this business.”== Flexibility holds the key ==At its Milton Keynes site, the company bakes its own range of artisan and speciality breads – both chilled and frozen – and has separate facilities where it adds value to products, from garlic baguettes to sundried tomato flatbreads. It’s also a major producer of dough balls.The bakery has been designed to be very flexible, in order to produce a wide range of speciality breads efficiently and cost-effectively. It has the latest injection, flow-wrapping and freezing facilities, as well as new mixing equipment, and a second stress-free dough line has been installed.The König stress-free plant was needed to protect artisanal recipe doughs from shearing strain – doughs such as ciabatta that must be put under minimal mechanical stress – to produce soft, fluid doughs that may not have a structure suited to a traditional plant line, he believes. “The dough is literally still moving as we’re cutting it – it’s not tightening and it gives a nice, open structure,” says Marx.”We’ve always wanted kit that’s flexible – we want the ability to intercede, to hand-cut and hand-finish. A line may have 18 changes in a day and there are hardly any factories in the country that would even think about doing that!”The other site, in Warminster, makes fully finished and pre-proved Danish pastries, as well as classics such as Belgium buns. The facility has been significantly upgraded over the past three years, nearly doubling in size, with a new tart line installed allowing Continental-style products to be produced.== Meeting the challenge of the market ==While that side is showing steady growth, it’s the French breads – the majority of which are supplied fully-baked and frozen for thaw-and-serve – that are really taking off, he says.”French baguettes started coming over in the mid-70s. They’re still in every shop corner, and every sandwich maker uses them. They haven’t changed very much, but the flavour has been cut back with the price. When it comes to our artisan baguettes, it’s very much about traditional recipes, different structures, different flavours – sales are going through the roof.”Customers are now much more demanding for bespoke NPD, and this is never more true than with ciabatta. “You can’t stand still,” says Marx. “A true ciabatta is ultra-dry, with big holes and a waxy finish. But that is too dry for some, and we have certain customers who take four different recipes. It is slightly more expensive, but the comments we’re getting are that it delivers quality of flavour and texture.”What he doesn’t want is to develop 90 products a year, only two of which make it to shelf before falling off after 12 weeks. He wants to grow turnover steadily by involving customers in NPD from the word go, identifying where new products fit in the market and avoiding the “scattergun approach”.”Selling the quiche business was the best move we ever made,” states Marx. “Firstly, we enjoy what we’re doing, because we no longer have to sit there fighting a ridiculous price point that we’re never ever going to beat. Secondly, we can make a quality product that people will pay a quality price for. So there is money to be made, and that’s what we’re in business for.”—-=== Giles Foods at a glance ===Business: Giles Foods manufacturers chilled and frozen bakery products. The company operates from two sites in Milton Keynes and Warminster, both accredited to BRC grade A standardTurnover for 2007: £13 millionProjected turnover in 2008: £16 millionNumber of staff: 150Key personnel: David Rixon, managing director; David Marx, sales and marketing directorCustomers and key markets: retail sector 40%, foodservice 40%, wholesale 20%[http://www.gilesfoods.com]
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Lincolnshire bakery Welbourne’s has won a contract to supply John Lewis’ Food Hall in Oxford Street with its Special Plum Bread.The deal came about after representatives from the bakery visited the Restaurant Show in October 2008. Former owner Pete Welbourne was representing the bakery on the Select Lincolnshire stand and was approached by a product manager for John Lewis’ Food Hall. After meetings between Welbourne’s consultant, Bill Shaw, and product tasting sessions, the deal was agreed.Welbourne’s was established in 1896 and makes its plum bread to an almost identical recipe it used 112 years ago. The only change it has made is that it now uses vegetable fat instead of lard.“We are proud to supply our award-winning Plum Bread to farm shops, butchers and other businesses within our county and surrounding areas, and the opportunity to supply the John Lewis store means we are presenting our product to a whole new audience,” said Shaw.
Consumers are in favour of a single front-of-pack (FOP) labelling scheme, according to the results of a research project by the Project Management Panel, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency.The aim of the study, led by an independent group of experts, was to evaluate the impact of different FOP nutritional signposting schemes on consumer understanding and behaviour, and to establish which type is most effective.The outcome of the research showed that a single FOP scheme would be best for consumers, in order to avoid confusion. Most useful is judged to be a label that combines the indicators ’high, medium and low’, traffic light colours and the percentage of a consumer’s Guideline Daily Amount (GDA).The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said that committing to a change in FOP labelling now would be premature, as a European review of labelling is currently under way. “Until a final decision about a front-of-pack labelling scheme is taken at European level, it would be premature for the UK to adopt any new regime of its own,” said BRC director general Stephen Robertson.The project also found that consumers had a high level of understanding of FOP labels. Other factors influencing their purchasing decisions included labels that indicated it was part of a ’healthy’ range.organic, as well as the overall look of the product.
== Employee cleared ==In our 22 August 2008 issue we published a story on bakery employee Paul Bentley, charged with attempting to contaminate food with peanuts at Pork Farms in Nottingham. Bentley was found not guilty of possessing material for contamination on all charges by Judge John Stokes on 24 February 2009.== Warburtons’ campaign ==Warburtons is launching an on-pack promotion – Save Tons on Lunch – which will feature across over 100 million loaves from mid-June. The campaign, running until September, includes rewards such as money-off coupons and free lunch items. Warburtons is linking with brands including Anchor Spreadable and Birds Eye Fish Fingers, and the coupons will be valid against either a Warburtons product or a product from a partner brand.== Bakery is theft victim ==Fuller’s Quality Bakers in Yorkshire was nearly bankrupted by an employee who stole almost £12,000. Beverley Peniston admitted four charges of theft between July 2007 and December 2008 at Hull Crown Court. She was given a six-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and made subject of a non-monitored curfew for three months.== Island updates look ==Island Bakery Biscuits has updated the look of its twin-pack range, following the revamp of its 150g retail packs last year. Founder, Joe Reade said he wanted to increase the presence of the biscuits in areas such as upmarket canteens and hotel meeting rooms.== Crisp flavour winner ==Walkers has announced that Builder’s Breakfast is the winner of its ’Do us a flavour’ competition and will now become a permanent flavour in the Walkers range.
Making covert recordingsOne of our members was recently asked by an employee if he could make a recording of his disciplinary hearing. His request was refused, but it later emerged that he had gone ahead and secretly recorded it on his iPhone anyway.As he is now threatening to use it in a tribunal claim, our member wants to know the legal position of this type of recording is it relevant evidence or will it be ignored?Is there any right to record?The starting point is the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (the Code). It makes no mention of whether either party has the legal right to make an audio recording of a disciplinary hearing. So unless your procedures specifically allow for it and this is fairly unusual you are under no obligation to agree.Suitable alternatives availableAs far as the Code is concerned, the employee has a number of alternatives.Firstly, they have the statutory right to be accompanied to the hearing for example, by a workplace companion. Secondly, the employee, their companion or both can make written notes of your discussions.Finally, as a matter of good practice, employers are encouraged to ensure that there is someone present at the hearing to take notes. These must be made available to the employee if so requested. Ideally, the note-taker should be independent not a witness, or someone who dealt with the disciplinary investigation. This will prevent any allegations of procedural unfairness or bias.Tightening up your proceduresHowever, the existence of a covert recording may become problematic if a dispute eventually ends up before the tribunal; they are more interested in the quality and relevance of any evidence, rather than how it was obtained.For example, in the case of Chairmen and Governors of Amwell View School v Dogherty 2007, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) accepted a covert recording of a disciplinary hearing because:1. The employer hadn’t banned them; and2. It was relevant to the claim (which was for unfair dismissal).Not always the case?This case (which was heard pre-Code) suggests you must clarify your position on the recording of disciplinary hearings.However, in other cases, employees haven’t always been so lucky; requests have been refused. But as this risks an appeal to the EAT, which could allow the recording, we would suggest that you err on the side of caution. Make it clear in your disciplinary procedures that covert recordings during meetings and hearings are not allowed.If an employee asks to record a hearing, refuse their request in writing. If you later discover they have done so covertly, you should point this out to the tribunal.
The naming of the World Scotch Pie Champion has been postponed by the organisers, as the recent snow meant entrants would have had difficulty attending the ceremony in Carnegie College, Dunfermline.Judging for the event took place earlier this month, with the winner due to be announced on Tuesday 30 November, but the organisers have now proposed a new date of Thursday 6 January.“We had over 100 members and their guests due to travel from all over Britain to attend the awards lunch. There was no way we could risk people travelling on roads affected by snow and ice,” commented organiser and MD of Stuart’s of Buckhaven Alan Stuart.There were a total of 80 entries in the annual competition, including two from English firms.>>Nationwide entries encouraged for Scotch Pie championship
Carrie’s Cakes in Ennis, Co Clare, has seen turnover increase by 50%, after its complete shop makeover was featured on an Irish television show.Pastry chef Caroline Gardiner opened her bakery in March last year, but was making little progress until Senator Feargal Quinn, an Irish retailing maestro, did a makeover for his current series on RTÉ One television, Retail Therapy.Before the revamp, the two of them went to the Primrose Bakery in London for some expert advice.Little Blue Studio, Limerick, redesigned all the signage and packaging, completely rebranding the bakery, while Laurie Lawler, an interior designer, gave the shop with its new coffee section a trendy retro look.The shopfront also got a total restyling. The bakery, on Salthouse Lane, was also supplied with a range of new production equipment to boost productivity.The menu was overhauled, with more emphasis on speciality breads, including spelt bread. “We baked six times more product that day than on a normal weekday and I never took so much money in on one day,” commented Gardiner on the Monday following the bakery’s appearance on TV.