Hartlepool-based frozen desserts company Bonne Bouche has pledged to develop a range of retail brands after being restructured by the venture capitalists which back it.Financial director Richard Dean told British Baker the company’s strategy is to “continue as a leading frozen desserts manufacturer in the UK”.It will continue to offer own-brand products at all price points, but also develop bran-ded products in the future, he said, adding that the company wants to ensure a “decent split between all price points”. The firm will also develop its foodservice business.Bonne Bouche has appointed two new directors to drive forward the new strategy – part-time chairman Steve Baker and operations director Jan Konig, both formerly of Norfolk-based ready meals company Oriental Express Frozen Foods.In December British Baker reported that Bonne Bouche’s founder and MD Wayne Hitch-man had left suddenly in a shake-up by Bonne Bouche’s backers (British Baker, December 9, pg 5). Following his departure, the position of MD will not be filled, Mr Dean said. Instead, he and Mr Konig will manage the day-to-day running of Bonne Bouche.The recent strategic review also led to 30 redundancies, Mr Dean told British Baker. These cuts include approximately 18 management positions. The company is left with 240 staff, Mr Dean said.Bonne Bouche was created in July 2004 by a management buy-out of Freshbake’s Hartlepool site, after Freshbake went into receivership. The site was originally a Hibernia Foods plant.
Month: April 2021
This week’s big news is another big fire (pg 3). Fletchers Bakeries, still owned by Northern Foods though up for sale, appears to have suffered “a catastrophic technical failure” in a processing plant, according to firefighters.Thank goodness no staff were hurt and it sounds as though Northern Foods is handling the disaster very efficiently. But an insurance excess of £4m, which Northern is liable for, is bad news at this time – as is the lost production.I remember two years ago when insurance costs for bakeries rose dramatically. We complained strongly to the insurance companies on your behalf, as did your trade associations.Their response was to say that bakeries experienced an unusually high number of fires. Events since have sadly proved them right. It is the bigger companies, Aulds, Warburtons, Peters of Durham, that tend to make the headlines. But fires happen in smaller companies too, so the second you stop reading this please plan a few minutes to review your fire prevention procedure. And also your disaster recovery strategy should a fire start (or be started!) at any time of day – or night. Your trade associations and local fire service will be pleased to help. But it is vital you act soon because from 1 October the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order which has been delayed from April, comes into effect. In recent issues (31 March, 2006, and 16 September, 2005) fire prevention consultant Alan Gill of AWG Fire, Health & Safety, explained the changes to the legislation. He also detailed risk factors and protective control measures. I know many of you keep back issues, so I do urge you to look them up if you have any doubts about prevention and the forthcoming legislation because such factors could affect your insurance. In the meantime we wish Northern Foods and Fletchers good luck for the difficult weeks and months that lie ahead.Elsewhere, British Bakeries is investing a whopping £20m across its Hovis range with a new logo, new packaging and a big advertising campaign, not to mention new recipes. It is a major investment for a major brand that seems to go from strength to strength and stay ahead of the game.And do read about Thorntons’ coffee shops paging system. Is this the ‘sound’ of things to come?
W holemeal bread took a spanking in The Sunday Times recently for having nearly double the level of sugar it did 30 years ago. Shock! Naughty plant bakers are contributing to the obesity epidemic by loading our bread with cheap sugar to make it more palatable and to compensate for salt reductions, it reported. Horror!What it failed to state – and this rather undermined its point – is that sugar is not commonly added to bread in the UK. A glaring error, you might think, and one deserving of the paper in turn being put over our collective knee for a slap.Comparing data from McCance and Widdowson’s (M&W) The Composition of Foods 1978, with a loaf plucked from the shelf – in this case, Hovis, which includes a small amount of brown sugar – the report said that sugar content in wholemeal bread had gone up from 2.1g per 100g in 1978 to 3.7g per 100g in a Hovis wholemeal loaf today. It also cited Sainsbury’s own-label bread, which has 3.5g sugar on the nutrition label.The problem is that the Sainsbury’s loaf, like most other loaves, contains no added sugar. As Joe Street, MD of Fine Lady Bakeries, which doesn’t add sugar to its Tesco own-label bread, nimbly states: “The article looked at one thing [that sugar is added to bread], took it in isolation, and assumed it’s everywhere, which is a load of nonsense.” The starting point for explaining why sugar content appears to have risen should be asking why, if one loaf has added sugar and the other doesn’t, do the two loaves have similar sugar contents on the nutrition label?Firstly, let’s break down the typical 3.5g sugar content in a 100g of wholemeal bread. Flour contains around 2% of naturally occurring sugars. As a rule of thumb, taking a third off that figure would give an approximate level of the sugars in bread – somewhere between 1.3-1.5%. Sugars will always be higher in wholemeal than in white bread, because sugar levels are higher at the junction between the bran and the endosperm.fermentation processThen there’s the fermentation process where the amylase enzyme breaks down starch, a product of which is another sugar – maltose. The fermentation process will actually increase the sugar levels, taking us up to between 2%-2.5%. So much of the sugar content is naturally occurring from the flour and fermentation. Another source of sugars is malt, which is added to dough to help speed the fermentation and to develop a good crust colour in a short time, a soft crust and a moist crumb texture.So what makes up the remainder? The increased use of enzymes potentially producing more maltose in modern no-time dough-making may provide a clue, says cereal scientist Stan Cauvain of bakery consultant Baketran. “I wonder – and I can only say at this stage that it is a wonder – if as a result of using much higher levels of enzymes than we did 30 years ago we’re actually generating more maltose. That is perhaps why levels appear to be much higher.” Indeed, he estimates that alpha amylase enzyme activity has increased tenfold since 1978.Improvements in the way nutritional data is measured may also account for the disparity between sugar levels in 1978 and now. Historically, sugar nutrition content used to be calculated and now it is more scientifically analysed – and more accurate. A suspicion arises from M&W’s figures for bananas, which show that the amount of sugar in a banana rose from 16g to nearly 21g between 1978 and 2002.”Are you telling me that people are breeding bananas to make them more sweet? That’s banana talk!” says Professor Jeya Henry of Oxford Brookes University. “The whole tone of the [Sunday Times] article demonises sugar, in a way that is unfortunate. There is a problem of analytical exactitude in comparing data from 20-odd years ago. There have been huge advances in methodology.”The M&W data for wholemeal in 2002 actually shows 2.8g/100g sugar – way short of the typical 3.5g found in loaves today. There has been no revolution in the plant baking process over the past five years to account for the dispa-rity, says Graham March, MD of Roberts Bakery. “There’s absolutely no reason why [sugar levels] should have changed over time. No recipe change would have created that much difference.”Low levels in breadThe gripe of food campaigners is that more sugar in processed foods is detrimental to people’s health. But even if sugar content in bread had actually doubled, would they be right to point the finger at bread? Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson points out that sugar levels in bread remain very low. “It has not been an issue that has been raised as one of concern,” he says.Foods that have 10g/100g or more of sugar are considered to be high in sugar, so the current sugar levels in wholemeal are “not a concern”, concurs Lisa Miles, nutrition scientist at The British Nutrition Foundation. “There’s no widespread recommendation to restrict the sugars found naturally in foods, because these foods tend to also provide vitamins, minerals and fibre,” she adds.Sometimes a small amount of sugar is added to wholemeal bread because wholemeal grains are bitter and unpalatable to consumers on their own, British Bakeries says in a statement: “Hovis Wholemeal does contain a small amount of brown sugar, added as much for the flavour generated in baking as for the effect on bitterness. The quantities of sugar added are very small and do not affect the nutritional benefits of the bread.” Meanwhile, bakery writer Dan Lepard says the issue has been overblown: “I wouldn’t have thought that the inclusion of a small amount of brown sugar in Hovis’ loaf was such a scandalous thing, especially when most of it will disappear during the fermentation process, simply leaving the molasses to give a rich warm colour to the crumb and dough.”One thing that can be confidently dispelled is that sugar is being added to wholemeal bread for nefarious reasons. “Nobody is concealing the addition of sugar to bread. It could be a combination of circumstances that gives us higher levels than we saw 30 years ago,” says cereal scientist Cauvain. n
A total of 450 jobs have been axed after the Lyndale Group was put into administration, which led to the closure of the Sayers’ bakery in Norris Green, Liverpool, 41 stores across the north west and the Sayers headquarters in the city.The job losses were implemented after a management buy- out by Sayers chairman Sandy Birnie and chief executive Michael Quinlan, who have formed a new company, Sayers the Bakers. They bought back 158 Hampson and Sayers stores, as well as Hampson’s bakery in Bolton.Dermot Power and Toby Underwood, the joint administrators from BDO Stoy Hayward, are currently looking to sell Lyn-dale’s Peter Hunt business, which manufactures meat pies and pasties, as “a going concern”. Power said Sayers the Bakers would source “most but not all its products from external suppliers”.Birnie blamed the company’s problems on “escalating costs of raw materials, as well as soaring energy and fuel costs”. He added: “Unfortunately, we have had to take some extremely difficult decisions in recent weeks, but we have had to act now in order to protect the long-term futures and job security for the remaining 1,500 employees around the north west.”However, the management’s actions were condemned by the Baker’s Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU). BFAWU organising district secretary for the north west John Higgins told British Baker that while the union knew the Norris Green plant was set to shut, the closure of what the company termed its “poor performing” stores had come as “a complete shock”.
Employers are obliged to provide information to, and consult with, trade union or other appropriate representatives where they propose to make 20 or more employees redundant at one establishment within 90 days or less.Traditionally, employers did not have to consult with employees’ representatives about the reasons for proposed redundancies. The duty was interpreted as a requirement simply to consult about how to carry out any redundancy programme that management deemed necessary.But that position has changed as a result of last year’s decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the case of UK Coal Mining vs the National Union of Mineworkers.The case concerned Ellington colliery in North-umberland, which, for years, had faced financial problems, potential redundancies and closure. In 2005, a flood suspended mining, affecting profits. Management decided that closure was inevitable and cited safety concerns as the reason for redundancies; 158 workers were made redundant in less than a month from the first announcement.Newcastle Employment Tribunal found as a fact that the purported safety reason for the closure was untrue and that the economic viability of the mine was the main reason for the closure.Although some limited consultation was found to have taken place, it considered that this focused on alternative employment and the calculation of redundancy and other payments. Whenever the union made requests or suggestions relating to other matters, such as challenging the closure of the colliery on safety grounds, it was found that the employer had effectively ignored them.The tribunal accorded the maximum protective award of 90 days and held that the employer could not rely upon the special circumstances defence, as it had deliberately provided a false reason for the redundancy proposals.As to whether the employer was obliged to consult on the decision to close the mine, the union accepted that the tribunal was bound by existing case law, which stated that no such duty existed.The employer appealed and the union cross-appealed. The EAT dismissed the employer’s appeal. It went on to rule that EU law had widened the scope of the consultation obligation to include consultation over the avoidance of dismissals that, by implication, extends to consulting about the reasons for the proposed redundancies.Summing upWell-advised employers have, for some time, produced cases outlining why they are contemplating making multiple redundancies, as a matter of good practice and in order to dispel any concerns that the proposed dismissals are not genuine.Given the decision of the EAT, an employer will now normally be required to provide the information and should expect to have its reasoning challenged.The extent to which an employer can be required to disclose sensitive financial information to support its reasoning (or challenges to it), in order to comply with the duty to consult, is still unclear, and is likely to prove a contentious area.l Ray Silverstein is a partner at law firm Browne Jacobson LLP, advising clients on a wide variety of employment issues—-=== Key issues for consideration ===l Reasons given for proposed multiple redundancies must be truthful, otherwise an employer will be financially penalised.l When contemplating making multiple redundancies, an employer must now consult on the reasons for them if redundancies appear inevitable.l The duty to consult over the reasons for the proposed redundancies should not have a significant impact on timescales, but should be borne in mind by an employer.
Dorset bakery Honeybuns has launched its new range of cookies at the Caffé Culture exhibition. The products include polenta and ground, toasted almonds and are free from gluten and refined sugar.The new cookie flavours are: Triple Chocolate Tinker, made with three grades of chocolate and a pure vanilla, with a dash of espresso; Dorset Apple Cake Cookie, made with apples, lemon zest and Somerset cider brandy-soaked raisins; and Honey, Almond & Salted Pistachio, made with honey from local bee farmer Filberts. A combination of honey and natural fruit sweeteners have been used instead of sugar. www.honeybuns.co.uk
For long-established bakery chains, the idea of trying something new may seem like risky business, as existing customers will be used to particular products and price points. However, a number of bakery businesses, interested in introducing different and perhaps more premium lines, have come up with new shops to fit their ideas. We look at how two businesses have achieved ’concept outlet’ success.HallsHalls Bakery in Lancashire has taken the effects of the recession as an opportunity to overhaul the business. Established in 1933, the traditional craft business currently has four retail outlets and supplies for corporate catering. However, Joe Hall, who runs the business, decided he needed a radical plan to ensure continued growth and to differentiate his products. From this, ’The Proper Pie Shop Halls @ 47’ in Chorley was born. Keeping the Halls brand name, the counters, décor and signage have been updated to give a younger and more modern feel, while still retaining the firm’s traditional values. The shop has more of a deli feel to it, says operations director Peter Gronback, with a slightly different product offering and seating upstairs.”I found many bakeries were approaching their business development in the same ways and product offerings were becoming very similar,” says Hall. “I also found that my customers’ lifestyles had changed a lot over the years and what they expected from their retail experience was now very different. Their new shopping behaviour and preferences made me decide to design a new bakery outlet and take a radical new approach, so we could really make an impact.”The shop counters offer hot and cold products, including hot pies and savouries, hot carvery sandwiches, made-to-order sandwiches, soup, coffee, pre-packed sandwiches and snacks, cold drinks, crisps and confectionery. “It has a slightly different pricing struc-ture, and we’ve noticed we’re getting a younger clientele now,” adds Gronback.Hall says customer feedback has been great and business has been excellent. “All the signs point to us exceeding our sales targets, even in this difficult trading period. The shop was opened on a very tight budget, but is showing that, as long as there is a sound concept that is implemented well, it’s not necessary to throw huge money at a project to make it successful.”Friary MillTraditional bakery retailer Friary Mill, based in Plymouth, decided to break from the norm by opening a contemporary coffee shop earlier this year.The newly revamped shop in Gasking Street, is located next to the site of the business’ first retail outlet, which has also had a make-over. As well as indoor seating, it has an outdoor terrace and a total of 40 covers. After 21 years in business, Friary Mill says it is now cautiously exploring the scope for further expansion.Director Karen Milner feels the make-over of the existing shop, with the launch of the adjoining coffee shop “complement each other very well”.The coffee shops feature a centrally-located panoramic display counter, with modern furnishings, “warm corporate colours”, wall graphics, and menus written on white glass panels.Customers can choose from all-day breakfasts, paninis, quiche and salad, filled rolls, Danish pastries, fresh cream cakes, and a range of cooked meals such as jacket potatoes and homemade soup. The revamped bakery shop next door now focuses on sandwiches and hot food-to-go.Friary Mill consultant Mathew Goodman says the addition of a coffee shop to its retail estate offers existing customers an extended menu, based around its current bakery lines, with the addition of other products, such as freshly ground coffee. “It gives customers the choice either to take away or eat in, and enables the company to compete effectively against high street brands,” he says.The reaction from existing customers has been positive, he adds, and new customers have also been “enticed” into the new outlet.
Subway has cut salt in its ’sub’ sandwiches by a third in the past year as part of healthy eating commitments made with the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Over 90% (24 out of 26) of the chain’s range of sandwiches now meet the FSA’s 2010 salt targets, with the retailer working to reduce salt further to meet 2012 targets. Reductions have been made by working with suppliers to source ingredients with lower salt levels and removing some altogether, such as pickles and olives. Bread supplier Evron Foods managed to reduce salt levels in white and brown bread by 8.7% and 7% respectively, to meet 2012 salt reduction targets. This was achieved by using slow-acting yeast to control CO2 and by slowing down the dough thawing and proving process to improve fermentation. Other highlights from the project include cutting salt levels in the six-inch steak and cheese sub by 45%, from 3.5g to 1.9g, while salt content in the beef sub was reduced by 39% to 1.5g.Last month, the chain also incorporated salt reduction targets in its guidelines for new suppliers, while serving staff at its 1,400 stores in the UK and Ireland have been trained to ask customers if they are ’all set’, rather than directly offering them salt and pepper.Other commitments include looking to reduce fat and saturated fat in cheese, pepperoni, salami, meatballs, cookies and muffins, with plans to introduce a range of lower-fat sweet baked goods, such as a ’skinny’ muffin.Subway was criticised by consumer group Which? earlier this year for the salt content of its six-inch Meatball Marinara, which contained 4.7g. This has now been reduced to 3.3g.
RedBlack Software has launched Cybake Touch a new shop ordering software application for bakery retailers.The stand-alone product has been designed to reduce shop waste, as well as maximise sales. It is sold seperately to the Cybake 3 bakery management system, and can be installed on any Windows-driven touchscreen EPOS hardware. It then links with the EPOS software already installed on the retailer’s till systems and works with any head office business applications.Bakery shop managers can place orders via their existing touchscreen EPOS, while head office can analyse orders using sales history, exceptional quantity alerts, key line and waste warnings for every outlet.”CyBake Touch allows the shop to put in its own orders, so you will almost certainly reduce admin at the head office,” said Martin Coyle, sales manager at RedBlack Software. If a product is over- or under-delivered, head office is notified via the software. Real-time communication is achieved via broadband.Prices start from £3,000www.redblacksoftware.co.uk
New coffee chain Love Coffee is stepping into the gap left by BB’s Coffee & Muffins, with a goal for 25 outlets by the end of the year. Former BB’s Coffee & Muffins franchisee Shashi Patel, of DJ & C Foods, is planning to roll out the new chain in shopping centre locations across the UK.Patel formerly had 13 BB’s outlets, which are now in the process of being rebranded as Love Coffee, and the firm has already opened two additional stores in Woking.“When BB’s went into administration, we felt it was an opportunity to do our own thing,” explained Patel. “Our target is to have 25 cafés by the end of the year. We have purchased two of BB’s sites from the administrators and are also looking at brand new sites.”The cafés offer a range of sandwiches and muffins, freshly made in-store, as well as the company’s own blend of coffee, sourced from Nairobi Coffee Company. The firm has sites throughout Cheshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire.