Cake giant Inter Link says it plans to create four major production hubs in the UK and one in Poland, as it modernises its business. In a few years, Inter Link, which currently has 10 UK bakery businesses and one in Poland, hopes to have consolidated activities to five large hubs, including Blackburn, Trafford Park in Manchester and Poland, chief executive Paul Griffiths revealed to British Baker. Speaking after Inter Link revealed results for the year to May 2006, he said these hubs are likely to be clusters of factories close to each other. Inter Link has expanded rapidly, acquiring nine different businesses over the last 10 years, including the Polish baker Cukiernia Mistra Jana. It is now consolidating operations, he explained. Two bakeries closed last year, with production absorbed into alternative sites. Plans to close a third, Hoppers Farmhouse Bakery, were unveiled recently (British Baker, 30 June, pg 3). As part of its efficiency drive, Inter Link is about to introduce central distribution. It will open a 189,000sq ft central distribution depot in Warrington, Cheshire, next month, run by logistics company Christian Salvesen. All raw materials and finished goods for Inter Link’s UK and Polish business will pass through the site. Griffiths said: “Previously, distribution was operated by 12 separate hauliers across the UK. It was complicated and expensive. Having a consolidation warehouse will reduce complexity.”Inter Link has also spent £1m on introducing a central IT system, which will go live by next month, providing extensive management data. Two new 30,000sq ft production facilities are set to open in Trafford Park, alongside the existing Soreen plant. One, which will double its capacity for Soreen branded products, will open in the next couple of weeks. The second, due to open in spring 2007, will be Inter Link’s first production site for puddings, as it enters that market.The company also plans to double production capacity at its Polish factory to 150,000sq ft in the next two years. And Griffiths stressed that Inter Link will continue to strive to be the UK’s number one cakes supplier; it is currently in number two position, behind RHM. This week, Inter Link announced a 33% rise in sales to £130m for the year to 6 May. Profit before tax and exceptional costs was up by 21% to £7.1m.
A major event in the US, Halloween has never had the same impact in the UK. But there are signs that this is changing, with the British public showing more interest in ghouls and ghosts.According to Steve McCann, technical baker for ingredients supplier Macphie, sales during the scaring season are soaring. “With the UK Halloween market growing by a staggering 25% year on year, many bakeries find that this is their strongest time of the year for novelty lines, even though it has a much shorter selling period than Christmas,” he says.”Halloween sales might stretch to a couple of weeks, compared with 8-12 weeks for Christmas. Both Christmas and Halloween have strong visual identities and are great opportunities for bakers to create excitement and revitalise existing lines to capture the imagination.”Halloween has a strong appeal to both children and adults, and has a much broader consumer base than say Valentine’s day, says McCann. “Everyone seems to get into the spirit of Halloween and most bakers enjoy the opportunity to come up with gruesome ideas in the most shocking colours.”So what does he look for in a Halloween idea? “Mainly we look for ideas that are simple to make but have a lot of visual impact. Bakers can make the most of the range of Macphie bakery ingredients available,” he says.For example, Macphie recommends starting with plain cake bases (such as Macphie’s Mississippi Muffin/Case Mix or Genoese Cake Mix) or cookies (such as Macphie’s American Soft Cookie Mix).Simply cut these into novelty shapes and top with quick and easy decorations. McCann says: “It’s important to keep the concepts grounded in practical reality. We know that people are pressed for time and don’t always have the finishing resources they’d like.”Childrens’ sweets can be used to finish some of the products, which are easily obtainable at any supermarket or sweet shop. There are a variety of plaques and toppers available.McCann says: “We also look for ideas that will appeal to both children and adults, with a sense of fun and an element of gruesomeness, because we know that these are the ideas that will walk out of the shop.”McCann says his ideas for Halloween tend to come from the traditional ghosts and ghouls Halloween themes. “Our marketeers research global databases for what’s new, what costumes themes are on the web and that kind of thing. They keep a list of ideas associated with Halloween. If you can work around these, you can’t go far wrong.”Despite the US tradition of celebrating Halloween, Macphie says the event actually originated in England. In nineteenth century All Souls’ Day parades, poor people begged for food and families gave them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. n—-=== Let your imagination run wild ===n Use what is readily available to finish productsn Keep the final format simplen Produce fun, scary ideas that will appeal to children and adultsn Make sure to use Halloween-themed packaging to make things extra specialBride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Cakes:Make up Macphie Genoese Cake Mix as per basic recipe. Deposit 5kg of batter into 18in x 30in tray. Bake at 180ºC (360ºF) for 40 minutes. When cool, cut into rectangles. Enrobe with 5th Avenue White Icing coloured with green food colouring. Create faces and hair with jelly sweets, Liquorice Allsorts and 5th Avenue Chocolate Icing. Use chocolate curls to create Frankenstein’s hair.Maggoty Muffins:Make up Mississippi Plain and Chocolate Muffin/Cake Mixes as per basic recipe. Add green food colouring to the plain batter as required. Gently blend the two batters together to create a marble effect. Deposit 85-90g of batter into paper cases on muffin trays. Bake at 185ºC (365ºF) for 30 minutes. When cool, decorate with jelly worms to create a scary maggoty effect.Trick or Treat Cookie Bags: A mixture of delicious “treat” cookies and unusual “trick” cookies for example: hot chilli flavour, which are surprisingly tasty!Make up Soft and Chewy Cookie Mix as per basic recipe. Blend in 10g of dried chilli per 1kg of powder mix. Deposit 75g of dough onto baking tray and bake at 170ºC (350ºF) for 14 minutes. Alternatively make up cookies using Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chunk, Oat & Raisin or Chocolate Cookie Mix.—-=== Halloween line-up ===
According to business analyst Plimsoll Publishing, new technology can predict the success or failure of almost any proposed acquisition in the UK and Nor- thern Ireland.The technology, Valuations, Industry analysis, Business acquisitions (VIBE) draws on a database of information from the age of a firm’s directors to details about the company’s strengths and weaknesses.”We also identify the firms we describe as ’hidden jewels’, where the fees paid to directors have been distorting the profits for years,” said Plimsoll’s senior analyst David Pattison. “This is a package of key information that is not available anywhere else in a single document.”Each report is supplied via email, or CD or on a USB memory stick.
Holiday park chain Bourne Leisure had just six weeks before the start of last year’s caravanning season to reinvigorate the bakery products sold at its 34 caravan parks in the UK.The company had come to the conclusion that its existing offer was “old and tired” and failing to communicate the necessary warmth and freshness that should be associated with bakeries. “Bakery sales had become static,” confesses Bourne Leisure’s retail trading controller, Caroline McKenzie.So the company called in a new supplier, Cuisine de France, with a two-fold brief to boost business growth at Bourne Leisure’s caravan park shops. First, Cuisine de France, winner of this year’s Customer Focus Award, sponsored by BakeMark UK, at the Baking Industry Awards, was to help devise a new ’food-to-go’ brand that would appeal to caravan customers during the 32 weeks from March to October. Secondly, Bourne Leisure wanted “fresh thinking” on how to drive bakery sales upwards.The outcome of the subsequent rebranding exercise and shake-up in products has seen a 17% surge in retail business on the sites since early 2006. McKenzie says the results were achieved by root-and-branch changes. “We restructured the bakery working day, turning it into an ’all-day’ operation rather than losing valuable sales during a key trading period in the late afternoon.”The total category split between food-to-go and bakery sales “has now been reversed,” adds McKenzie, with bakery accounting for 62% and food-to-go taking a 38% share. “This has made the whole category more profitable, as more spend is coming from non-VAT products,” says McKenzie.She is confident that the tie-up with Cuisine de France can deliver even more improvements for the future. “By working together closely, we’ve identified further opportunities to drive sales and increase cash margins,” she says.On top of creating a new brand that would be easily understood by customers, there were three other challenges facing Bourne Leisure and Cuisine de France:l to reduce the bakery range so that the more popular products could be baked little and often, to help them maintain all-day freshness;l to supply a range of popular sandwich fillings from a frozen delivery network to give them a two-day shelf life, from frozen. The company says the “all-day snacking culture” at its parks makes chilled sandwiches a major part of its food-to-go offer;l to create take-up among park managers and staff.McKenzie admits that the changes met with some resistance at first, saying: “It took our management teams time to adapt to the change, but once they saw the success of the new way of working, they rose to the challenge. The other key ingredients that have contributed to our success are the equipment, branding and training support.”Cuisine de France was also aware of the challenge when Bourne Leisure approached them at the beginning of 2006. “As a new supplier to Bourne Leisure, we had to prove quickly that we could add value and drive a profitable business through innovation and a fresh approach,” says a spokesperson. By combining our efforts, we’ve been able to unlock the true sales potential of the in-store bakery and food-to-go brand in the holiday parks.”We have introduced a more hands-on approach, including weekly call coverage from the field sales team to ensure all opportunities are maximised, with particular focus on product quality and availability. The Cuisine de France national account manager and the Bourne Leisure trading controller visit the parks together to discuss opportunities at individual sites.” n
European Process Plant launched a deck oven from MIWE at the Baking Industry Exhibition earlier this year. The MIWE condo has all the features of a professional rack oven, but takes up less space and “handles everything from delicate pastry to hearty bread”.Each of its electric-heated decks can be controlled independently for top and bottom heat, baking time and volume of steam. Both analogue programming and a digital control system are available and standard equipment includes a seven-day timer for pre-programming baking temperatures and automatic steam programming. The corrosion-proof baking chambers are welded, so that no steam escapes. Granite hearth slabs are standard.[http://www.europeanprocessplant.com]
From 10 September, the Periodic Driver CPC training comes into effect, whereby all lorry drivers (with very few exemptions) will have a maximum period of five years in which to gain their full certificate in Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) if they want to continue to drive for a living, explains Nic Allen of the Freight Transport Association (FTA).Better commercial drivers will improve road safety, which can only improve the image of businesses, including commercial bakers. Existing drivers will have to complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years, while there are special courses for new drivers.The DCPC epitomises lifelong learning, ensuring skills are maintained and developed throughout the driver’s working life. This compulsory training will cover subjects such as loading, drivers’ hours, defensive driving, and fuel consumption. The latter will no doubt interest businesses looking to extract more value from their supply chains and will help companies reduce their carbon footprint.By now, bakeries with an in-house transport function should have a plan in place to ensure the introduction of the new requirements is as smooth as possible.This may seem daunting to the under-prepared, but help is out there. For more information, contact the FTA on 08717 112222 or email [email protected]
ISA has launched a new range of blast chillers and freezers, suitable for use in pastry shops and food-to-go outlets.The Zero range features a variety of horizontal and vertical units in different sizes, to suit different locations. They are finished in stainless steel, so are easy to clean. The Zero can be operated in two ways, either by pre-set parameters, which can be chosen to suit the type of food – nine basic programmes are supplied as standard – or the operator can design individual programmes to suit specific requirements. The programmes can be input by a control panel with LCD display.There is an automatic hot-gas defrost system that removes ice quickly to ensure continuous operation; manual defrost is also an option. All ISA’s products use 100% HCFC-free polyurethane insulation and eco-friendly refrigerant gases.www.isaspa.uk.com
Recession hits AryztaAryzta’s UK and Irish business has been hit the hardest by the recession, said the company, as it announced revenue losses in its Food Europe division. In its full year results, ended 31 July 2009, the firm, which focuses primarily on speciality bakery, revealed a drop in revenue of 2.2% to 1.14bn (£1.0bn) in its Food Europe division. Operating profit rose 11.4% to 135,103 (£124,561).Costa’s ATM driveCosta Coffee is to advertise its handmade coffee production through cash machines. It will promote the chain’s commitment to using manual coffee grinders rather than mechanical push-button machines for the preparation of its coffee. The ads will run across 200,000 targeted one-to-one ATM transactions in towns and cities across the UK, and reminders will also be printed on take-away receipts.Ginsters in TV pushGinsters of Cornwall returns to television screens until 13 November using a ’Keeping a Close Eye on Quality’ strapline. The ads feature a thinly disguised pantomime cow keeping watch among the Ginsters herd and a telescope inside a tree, watching over Ginsters’ locally-grown potatoes.Split performanceAccording to CBI’s monthly Distributive Trades Survey, 39% of retailers said year-on-year sales volumes rose in September, while 36% said they fell. National Association of Master Bakers CEO Gill Brooks-Lonican said sales were still flat in some parts of the industry, although events such as National Cupcake Week had been a positive boost for many shops. “I hear from a lot of people that sales are not as good as they were one told me sales were down £1,000 a week,” she said.
A life-sized pie of international rugby player of the year, Shane Williams, who plays for Wales, has been named as one of the best PR campaigns of the year by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.The Shane pie was launched at the Millennium Stadium in February 2009 in the week leading up to the Wales vs England game in the RBS Six Nations. It toured the media and supermarkets in Wales throughout the championship.The win put Peter’s Food Services in the news, with the judges describing the campaign as creative and engaging. The agency behind the initiative was Vibe in Cardiff.The CIPR judges said: “This was a fantastic campaign that maintained strong client branding throughout, while captivating the media and generating strong press coverage.”
6-10 March 2010Europain & IntersucLocation: Parc des expositions de Paris-Nord, Villepinte, Francewww.europain.com21-24 March 2010Baking Industry Exhibition (BIE)Location: Birmingham NEC, UKwww.bakingindustryexhibition.co.uk21-24 March 2010The Convenience Retailing ShowLocation: Birmingham NEC, UKwww.cstoreshow.com