Hopes build for Harvestime sale

first_imgAdministrators hope to get the sale of Harvestime (2005) “wrapped up by Christmas”, as potential buyers start putting offers in.Joint administrator John Kelly of Begbies Traynor said the six potential buyers had been invited to put offers in this week. He expects all bids to be in by the end of the coming week.Administrators may split up the company’s bakeries in Walsall, Peterborough and Leicester and sell them piecemeal, or sell the company as a whole. Mr Kelly commented: “They are quite distinct units, so they could be sold separately. We have an open mind; it depends what is in the best interests of the creditors and which are the best offers.”Harvestime may be restructured out of administration or its assets sold, he said. All potential buyers have been or are currently connected with the UK baking industry, Mr Kelly revealed and added: “We hope we will have all offers in by next week and get it wrapped up by Christmas. Lawyers work all-night sessions on these things.”Meanwhile, trading at the Walsall bakery has “much improved”, he said. Administrators made a further 17 redundancies at the end of November – of staff who had been paid up to that date before they were called in. Suppliers remain supportive and staff have agreed to changes in weekend working patterns to make production more efficient. The bakery has stopped producing crumpets, as they were not a cost-effective line, Mr Kelly added. Trading will continue as long as there’s interest from buyers in Harvestime (2005), he said.last_img read more

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Premier’s RHM plans

first_imgInnovation and investment were promised by Premier Foods after it took over RHM, which comprises milling, bread and cakes businesses, for £1.2bn this week.Premier’s chief executive Robert Schofield told British Baker: “This acquisition transforms our scale and we believe it will enable us to be a better partner with our retail customers.”RHM’s bread and bakeries division has been performing very well with growing sales and margins. Premier plans to improve performance through a tight control of costs, strong innovation and category expansion.”He said that the cakes division will be integrated into Premier’s Grocery division.Schofield added: “Hovis is a fantastic brand with great potential both in bread and adjacent categories – it will be our biggest brand when the acquisition completes, with £380m of sales. There is tremendous potential to stretch this brand into other categories.”He continued: “There are costs to come out of the overhead structure of the business but we see the bread and bakeries business as offering significant opportunities.”City investment analyst, David Lang of Investec, told British Baker: “Milling and baking are new areas for Premier so it would would doubtless be keen to retain RHM’s management to run the show.”Combining Premier and RHM in a new UK food industry leader should raise purchasing power, and management also expects to enjoy a stronger negotiating position with retailers,” said Lang.”Premier is eyeing up distribution where it says its scale might provide opportunities for radical new solutions. It’s not the first outsider that thinks it can fix endemic bread delivery efficiency problems.”At an investors meeting held by Premier on the morning of the takeover announcement, Lang said the company outlined plans to extend the Hovis brand.”It sees opportunities for Hovis outside its bread core. A biscuit revisit and cereals were mentioned,” he said. “The Hovis relaunch has been successful and its new ’health’ positioning could be used to extend the brand.”RHM invested £20m in new products, packaging advertising in July 2006.last_img read more

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Knockout blow for independents

first_imgT he eagerly-awaited Competition Commission (CC) report into the power of the supermarkets has arrived. Or, more accurately, a pre-report report, which precedes the report proper to be published next year, upon which we will report in due course.In the meantime, the initial recommendations make dour reading for high street bakery retailers and squeezed suppliers, who will be confounded by its conclusion that supermarkets are a good thing for consumers and recommendations of measures that could increase the number of out-of-town supermarkets. This has been branded as “whitewash” by critics, including high street bakers. Can it really be true that the multiples have been unfairly castigated up until now, as the CC suggests?In May of last year, the OFT asked the CC to investigate whether competition in the market was being restricted. Its pre-report, back last week, found few causes to recommend intervention.In fact, proposed changes in the planning process could actually allow supermarkets greater freedom to open stores, signalling the end of the ’needs test’ – currently in place to judge whether a town ’needs’ another supermarket – which often results in one supermarket dominating a locality.damage to independentsThe Forum of Private Business (FPB), which represents 25,000 small and medium-sized businesses, said the planning changes could damage independent retailers. “Smaller retailers are already suffering as a result of increased competition from the supermarkets entering the convenience store market, so encouraging more sites away from the traditional high street, with all the advantages of free parking that they enjoy, would be a body blow for many small shops,” said Matt Hardman, campaigns manager for the FPB. “It is no good just looking at whether a new site will encourage competition between supermarkets locally. What about the independents in the area? What about the damage that could be done to them?”Bob Farrand, chairman of the Guild of Fine Food, said the report only considered the impact of the supermarkets in relation to whether they were good or bad for consumers, calling it “a complete and absolute whitewash”, and a “gold-plated template to destroy our high street”.”Cheap food will always be in the consumers’ interest,” he said, “but this is a narrow, short-term and outdated position to adopt. The Commission has failed to appreciate the likely medium-term impact they, the supermarkets, will have on farming, small food producers and retailers and our high streets.” However, one unnamed supplier even questioned consumers’ “right to cheap food”, saying this assumption promoted unethical trading and employment practices.suppliers under pressureSuppliers complain of being pushed too hard by the purchasing power of the giant retailers, which is causing damage right down the supply chain.It was indicative of the fear engendered in supermarket bakery suppliers that none of those approached were willing to be named. One said the report was “bewildering and frightening”. “A large part of our business is supplying independent specialist retailers across the country and they’re closing at a rate of knots,” he said. “It’s all taking choice away from consumers. The innovative suppliers of tomorrow are incubated by supplying small independent retailers, so it’s total short-termism.”There was also disquiet over the CC’s investigation into supplier-retailer relationships, despite talk of toughening up the ineffective Supermarket Code of Practice, introduced in May 2002, by appointing an ombudsman.One supplier slammed supermarket late payment practices, hidden charges and refusals to accept price rises as “unethical”. Now that the CC says it has found evidence of this, why does it not choose to make specific recommendations to correct this now, asked Duncan Smith, head of Grant Thornton’s food and agribusiness recovery group, which advises food companies.”In an industry gloomed by a culture of fear of being de-listed, every man and his dog in the food supply chain knows that supermarkets are regularly demanding ever cheaper products with longer payment periods and other supplier contributions as part of the unwritten agreements they readily pull out of when it suits them,” he said.”For the time being, in the event of a dispute, suppliers can rest assured that no effective route of recourse, protection or likelihood of compensation will be put in place as a result of the report, which implicitly acknowledges the failings of the Supermarket Code of Practice but as yet takes no specific action to give it teeth and do the job it’s meant to do.”Absolved from blameBut Tesco executive director for corporate and legal affairs, Lucy Neville-Rolfe, insisted the provisional findings absolve Tesco from accusations that its dominant position in the market prevents other retailers from being able to compete. “There can be no doubt that shopping for groceries is better for consumers than it has ever been. Prices are lower, quality is better, there is greater choice and it is more convenient. All the benefits to consumers have come about because retailing in this country is intensely competitive and customers are quick to punish shops that disappoint them,” she said.This view is shared by a report from market researcher Verdict. It said none of the big four players – Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and Morrisons – manage to persuade anywhere near a majority of their shoppers to buy from them alone; six out of 10 food shoppers make regular use of a food retailer other than the big four, it said.”There is a common belief that because food retail has a number of very large, dominant players, consumer choice is somehow stifled,” says Verdict’s director of consulting Neil Saunders. “In truth, it isn’t. The biggest battle grocery retailers face is how to hold on to increasingly fickle customers who are able to transfer their custom elsewhere.”CONSUMER BATTLEVerdict believes that this battle for consumers will only intensify over the next five years, with increasingly mobile shoppers able to use stores while travelling to and from work, the expansion of internet shopping offering access to niche retailers, and the growing interest in ethical consumerism, fuelling growth of alternatives such as farmers markets.But Robert Dawson, MD of 10-shop Dawsons bakery, based in Nottingham, paints a contrary scenario: “A supermarket opens up at the edge of town. Only 25% of people will shop there. That figure represents your profit lost. Over time, the capital for fitting shops wears out and high street stores eventually close. The 75% of people left have to go to the supermarket. It may be competition, but it’s unfair competition because the whole costs structure is completely different (for the supermarkets) so supermarkets become monopolist in many parts of the country.”What is clear is that the only winners from the CC pre-report are the supermarkets, and sup- pliers and independents can expect little support from the report proper next year. nlast_img read more

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Briefs

first_imgn The Wiltshire town of Melksham has lost its last independent bakers with the closure of Webbs Bakery. Owner Mick Eglin looked back on “32 brilliant years” and said that the bakery had outlasted most of the other independents in the county.He added that trading conditions had been “extremely difficult” and, while emphasising that he was not “an anti-supermarket person”, he suggested that most people now wanted to do their shopping once a week “with a big trolley”.n The Firkins bakery chain is to close four of its shops in the West Midlands and has put them up for sale while it is spending £2.5 million revamping its 57 other outlets across the region.Ian Bolderston, who rescued Firkins in 2006 when it was close to collapse, said the four shops in Wolverhampton, Codsall, Wednesbury and Old Hill were “not part of the company’s long-term portfolio”, but would be sold as going concerns.He said the company was focused on consolidation, with a re-fit for seven shops, as well as plans to open five more.n Hall’s Bakery in Chorley, West Sussex, has appointed Steve Middleton, a former restaurant owner, as operations manager of the bakery’s newly launched catering business.The family firm recently launched a catering service for small functions and corporate meetings. It plans to expand on this.last_img read more

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In Short

first_img== Genesis gets Crafty on tourism drive ==Northern Ireland bakery Genesis has teamed up with the Armagh and Down Tourism Partnership to promote the region on special packs of its Genesis Crafty range. Genesis customers in Scotland and England will have the chance to win a luxury break for two, giving them the opportunity to indulge in the province’s food, activities and accommodation.New Veron to take down gluten costs== ==AB Enzymes has developed a new application for Veron HF to reduce the use of gluten costs. According to the company, Veron HF, which has been on the market for six years, “provides dry, fluffy and stable dough and gives an improved bread shape” and can be used in any bakery products that are yeast-raised. It said that 1kg of gluten can be replaced by 500g of gluten and 3g of Veron HF, achieving cost savings of between 40% and 50%.== Cardiff man mourned ==Oliver Long, former secretary of the Cardiff Master Bakers Association and organiser of the Annual Cardiff Bread, Cake & Confectionery Exhibition, passed away on Friday, 28 March. His funeral will be held at 10.30am on Friday, 11 April at Tabernacle Church, Plassey Street, Penarth. British Baker will publish a report on Long’s life and work in a future issue.UK high on soft drinksNon-alcoholic drinks saw the most low-, no-, or reduced-sugar product launches in major European markets last year, according to data from Mintel. In all categories, the UK had the highest number of product launches in these categories, with confectionery coming second in all markets. The data also showed the UK had the most non-alcoholic beverages with 72.last_img read more

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National Doughnut Week countdown begins

first_imgThere is less than a month left until the start of National Doughnut Week (NDW), but there’s still time to sign up and get involved.The week, sponsored by BakeMark UK, runs from 9-16 May and gives bakers the chance to benefit from boosting its doughnut sales as well as making money for charity.For every doughnut sold, a donation goes to The Children’s Trust – a charity which provides specific care, education and therapy for children with multiple disabilities.To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Trust, NDW aims to raise more than £50,000.Founder of NDW, Christopher Freeman of Dunn’s Bakery in Crough End, North London, is encouraging craft bakers up and down the country to get involved.“In these days of difficult trading conditions and doom and gloom, this is a fun event that will raise the profile of high street craft bakers and raise money for the most severely challenged children in the UK. What’s stopping you?” says Freeman.Two employees from Dunn’s have also decided to don doughnut costumes and take part in this year’s Flora London Marathon on 26th April, in aid of The Children’s Trust.Mark Legg and his partner Mari Griffiths are running in the event to help raise awareness about National Doughnut Week.If you would like to sponsor Mark and Mari, please visit:  www.justgiving.com/marigriffiths1. Bakers can obtain registration forms for NDW from Christopher Freeman by calling or texting 07776 480 032, or emailing him at [email protected] You can also sign up online at www.nationaldoughnutweek.org.last_img read more

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Get ready to enjoy National Cupcake Week

first_imgIt’s not long now until National Cupcake Week kicks off on 14 Sep- tember, so make sure you prepare your point-of-sale material and plan your window display, ready for our competition.British Baker has sent out a free branded poster to subscribers with this issue, which can be used in your shop windows, and point-of- sale material can also be downloaded from www.bakeryinfo.co.uk/cupcake.As part of the week, we are running a competition to find the best window display, with the chance to win two tickets to the Baking Industry Awards next year, so make sure you enter. The deadline for entries is 30 September and winning windows will appear in a future issue of British Baker. See pages 18-19 for more details.l Are you getting involved? Splat Cooking will be holding Fantasy Cupcake courses to coincide with the week (see tinyurl.com/mh34r2). And do let us know about your National Cupcake Week activities at [email protected] william-reed.co.uk.last_img read more

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Next issue 23 October

first_imglWhen Sylvia met DavidBB editor Sylvia Macdonald grills Tory leader David Cameron at flour miller FWP Matthews’ base in the CotswoldslIBAWe report from the German bakery exhibition to find out the latest machinery and ingredients news in EuropelBakers’ ReviewThe latest legal and business updates and advice from the National Association of Master Bakerslast_img

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My Career: Lee Smith

first_imgMarketing manager for Mr Kipling cakes, part of Premier FoodsWhat do you do day-to-day?I work from Premier Foods’ head office in St Alban’s and my main task is to help manage the growth of the Mr Kipling brand, at the same time as modernising it for today’s consumers.Our key target audience is mums and we have been doing a lot of work on understanding what they want and how to take the brand back into the heart of the family. Cakes are featuring more and more in lunchboxes and as market leader we should be there.Part of the day-to-day work has also been getting ready for the launch of our new TV advertising campaign around Oatibakes, which has just gone live. This has been a six-month process that has culminated in keeping the intriguing and secret Mr Kipling character integral to the brand, while at the same time ushering in Mrs Kipling’s first ever appearance on screen.How did you get into the baking industry?My first job was actually marketing tyres for Michelin, and I was based in Stoke-on-Trent. But I’m a total foodie at heart, so getting a job in the food industry was always my main goal.I worked at cheesemaker Bel UK for four years, before joining Premier to work on the Ambrosia brand, but Mr Kipling has been a great opportunity in an exciting category. Food and baking is about engaging with people about something they themselves feel passionately about.What was your training or education?I have a degree in languages French and German from Exeter University. I love languages and communicating, something that I believe has held me in good stead for a career in marketing. My education was really a stepping stone into business.Other than that, I have a marketing diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, but I believe that experience on the job is so important in forming you and informing you about what works in the real world and what doesn’t.What has been your career to highlight to date?Launching Oatibakes, without a doubt. The project was given to me to lead, which was very exciting, while the advertising campaign was a collaborative effort, headed by our head of marketing, Matt Hunt, and our marketing controller, Rachel Moss.It has all been a huge team effort and we are extremely pleased with the results.last_img read more

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Community funds new bakery in Exeter

first_imgA bakery producing sourdough breads and homemade cakes is set to be at the heart of a new local food shop and café in Exeter, which is to be financed entirely with investment from the local community.A community share offer was launched earlier this month to raise £190,000-worth of funding for the Real Food Store, which is planned to open in October at a 2,400sq ft, three-storey site in Exeter city centre. A 300sq ft open bakery, leased to local bakery company Emma’s Bread, will be a key feature of the new community-owned enterprise, supplying the shop and the café with bread, cakes and pastries.The project, which has grown out of work by community group Transition Exeter, is headed up by eight local people, who have a mix of expertise and professional skills, including Emma Parkin, owner of Emma’s Bread. Local residents are being encouraged to buy shares in the shop, with a minimum investment of £100 and a maximum of £20,000, with a dividend expected to be paid after three years of trading. Around 130 people attended the launch of the community share offer on 10 June. The offer is due to close on 23 July.“There are lots of coffee shop chains in Exeter, but nowhere where you can sit and eat cake straight from the oven; where people can see, hear and smell their bread being made,” said Parkin. “By raising funding through the community, people will hopefully feel connected to the business and will be keen to support it.”last_img read more

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