Danisco Sweeteners’ (Redhill, Surrey) Litesse polydextrose can be used to replace sugars and some fats in baked goods. In addition, Danisco says Litesse can be used to produce a high-fibre white bread, which acts as a prebiotic for good digestive health.Product formulations with a reduced glycaemic load are also possible, making baked goods that are suitable for consumers on a low-GI diet or for those who need to control their blood sugar levels.
As part of its drive to offer electric alternatives to conventional gas cooking ranges, Lincat (Lincoln) has added a four hotplate electric range to its Opus 700 series of equipment. “For many years, gas-powered ranges have been at the heart of commercial bakeries in this country,” says Nick McDonald, marketing and export director of Lincat.”However, current safety legislation requires that gas products be positioned under powered extraction canopies, fitted with an interlock, which automatically cuts the gas supply in the event of a power failure. These regulations can add significantly to the cost of installation.Demand from establishments of all sizes for electric-powered alternatives is therefore growing strongly. We expect our new range to meet the needs of those looking for a powerful, yet compact electric option.”
Members of the Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers (ABIM) devote considerable resources to developing product specification documents for customers to help them comply with legislation, certification schemes and codes of practice, as well as answering any questions they might have.Communicating product specification data to customers, using different formats, is a time-consuming and costly process. Employing technologists to complete what is effectively a ’cut and paste’ job of providing information is an ineffective use of skilled labour and expertise, which could be put to far better use in areas such as new product development.In some cases, ingredients manufacturers can find themselves completing upwards of 50-60 specifications with different formats and with variations in terms of the questions asked for a single product. However, by and large, all of these specifications are asking for the same information – information that is already available on the manufacturer’s specification document.ABIM members support a ’one product, one specification’ approach as being the most effective, accurate and timely method for communicating product information to its customers.We are encouraged that other trade bodies are investigating the feasibility of a universal specification template that could be applied widely throughout the industry. We are keen to engage with other parties to progress these ongoing initiatives.
The Real Good Food Company said it is “confident current market expectations will be met”, as MD John Gibson stepped down.Stephen Heslop, MD of its bakery and baking ingredients divisions, assumed executive responsibilities for the group upon Gibson’s departure on 11 July.A pre-close statement said that sales in the bakery ingredients division had been slow. But the company is confident Renshaw will recover the shortfall.In the bakery division, sales volumes are ahead of last year. These include Hayden’s Bakeries and Seriously Scrumptious.
W e were very much trying to target the young female professional,” says O’Briens’ retail and operations director Andrew Moyes, recalling the sandwich and coffee chain’s old look. Then, with exquisite timing, he gives a cheeky nod in the direction of the walking embodiment of the Irish franchise firm’s broadening appeal – a silver-haired 70-plus woman, who seats herself at the next table.”I think we now have a bigger spectrum of customer and we’re accessible to everyone, from youths to the ’grey pound’,” he says in the revamped London branch. “We’ve got a much broader customer profile now than if you look back to five years ago. And we now have the offer to match that profile.”The ’Starbucks of Ireland’ – O’Briens outnumbers the US coffee chain over there by almost 10-1 – has developed a new retail offer over the last six months. The changes at first seem largely cosmetic, featuring more coherent branding in-store, better use of images and more comfortable furniture. But one major change has been behind the counter – where a new quicker grilling system allows for a much faster throughput – alongside changes to the product range.In the UK, 25 of the company’s 100-plus stores have already been upgraded, rising to 60 by the end of this month. The new look will be replicated across its 120 Ireland stores and expanding worldwide franchise network, which brings the total to around 300 stores. “We’re really moving it to more of a lifestyle/café feel rather than a straight sandwich bar,” he says. “So we’ve been looking at everything, from the seating to the graphics that we use, to get a holistic view of the shop from the outside right through to the counter.”Moyes says the aim has been to tailor a healthy, upmarket offer. In addition to that, speed of service is key. Given its smaller size, the High Holborn, London outlet visited is more geared towards quick turnaround take-away than coffee shop lounging. And the local competition is ample. Across the road is a Starbucks, and a few doors down is a Paul bakery, while nearby reside a host of fast food and sandwich outlets such as Pret A Manger. So how does O’Briens hope to stand out from this crowded environment?”Neither Starbucks nor Paul offer made-to-order sandwiches – it tends to be the independents who are doing that, and there aren’t many of those,” he explains. There is, of course, one made-to-order sandwich outlet, growing rapaciously: Subway. But despite Subway’s rapid development, Moyes has O’Briens eyeing a different market. “Subway is more focused on the takeaway element; we’re going in for larger coffee shops and shopping-centre locations.INDEPENDENT FEEL”There is some impersonalisation that comes with the larger chains,” he continues. “But because all our shops are owner-operated, it brings an independent feel. They may be offering better service, because it is their own business. Also, the Irishness comes through in terms of the welcome that we give and the service that we provide. Many of our franchise partners are Irish.”On the products front, O’Briens is flagging up its ethical coffee with point-of-sale throughout the shop. Beans are now bought direct from the grower, with a large percentage sourced from Ethiopia, he claims. “That ethical stance is very important for us.”Pastries are baked-off on the premises. O’Briens has its own-branded water, with a range of branded smoothies also planned. Sandwich-wise it has a range of top-selling shamrock-shaped bread carriers, supplied by Delice de France. “People want to move away from the basic baguette or basic sandwich. That is still, of course, our core business, but customers do want something a bit different now, particularly when it comes to health.”In extending the hot offer, it found huge regional variations in demand for products such as quiche. “What sells in Manchester doesn’t sell in Holborn, and what sells in Glasgow doesn’t sell in Manchester. I think that’s one thing I kind of knew, but has now been proven! You can’t have a one-size-fits-all offering. It’s very much up to the local operator to decide what’s right for them.” Outside blackboard stands highlight specials and allow the local operator flexibility on deals.There has also been a shift away from largely focusing on the lunchtime trade to extending the breakfast and afternoon elements.”All the breakfast products are on the menu boards and they stay up all day – that was about introducing a decent range of morning goods, croissants and Danish. In the afternoon, we introduce a cake range, particularly in our bigger shops, so we’re moving away from just the lunchtime business.”Other features include wi-fi internet access, which is being rolled out in Scotland, where there are EPoS systems with broadband in place. So what’s been the most successful gain from the refit? “The speed of service,” he says emphatically. “We now offer pre-made sandwiches, which are freshly made that morning and put into the serve-over.”Previously the only ready-made sandwiches were sold packaged in the chiller cabinet, which never sold well. “Taking them into the serve-over has worked much better because it looks much fresher. Plus, the Turbochef oven has improved our speed of service, so our throughput is much higher than it was before, particularly over that busy lunchtime period when people may only have 20 minutes.”In the shop’s design, the green and black scheme has been integrated throughout the store, from menu boards to bags to window stickers. The logo has been employed more extensively, from the uniforms to the mirrors, to cups and doormats. “We have a uniformity of branding that we didn’t have before,” he says. “The marketing has got some uniformity to it now whereas it was rather bitty before,” he concludes. “People are dwelling more in the shops than they did, and we can see a very quick payback in the uplift in sales that our franchisees are getting.” n—-=== The brief ===The makeover, which was carried out by in-house architects and designers, approached all aspects of the shop, from the outside graphics on windows right through to counter displays and furniture. The biggest focus was on improving speed of service and broadening appeal away from its previous focus on young professional women. Being a franchise operation, owners decide whether to carry out the upgrade, while O’Briens provides the marketing nous such as the graphics scheme.The resultsThe stores have a more contemporary look, with higher lighting levels. The graphics on the window outside highlight its products: cakes, smoothies, sandwiches etc, which replaces the tagline: ’Your sandwich made in front of you’. Big external graphics are used to highlight new product ranges, such as iced drinks. Soft seating has replaced harder seating. Menu boards have been heavily rationalised. Pre-made products have been introduced into the serve-over units, whereas before it was purely made-to-order.Bakery snack lines, such as traybakes, have been introduced, with an impulse unit for cakes at the till point. Mirrors on the walls, which create the feeling of greater space, are scripted with O’Briens’ logos. A new Turbochef oven heats products more quickly than the roller grills previously used. Even the recommended in-store music list has been improved to give a better ambience.—-=== Vital statistics ===Model: Franchise, with 300 stores worldwide (120 in Ireland, 100 in the UK)Turnover: £68m in 2006Customer profile: wide demographicProducts: made-to-order sandwiches, croissants, Danish, traybakes and muffins, hot wraps, smoothies, ice drinks and Fairtrade coffeeRefit timescale: Up to two days; often the refit can take place overnight; the aim is to refit 70% of the shops by the end of the yearTypical store size: High Holborn, London has 20 covers, though O’Briens has outlets of up to 250 coversCost of refit: £15,000 in High Holborn, London; the oven is the costliest elementUplift: the 25 stores that have been refitted have seen between 10%-30% uplift in like-for-like salesExtras: outside catering accounts for up to 50% of an O’Briens store’s turnover, and point-of-sale information is available in-storeWebsite: [http://www.obriensonline.com]
n Honeytop Speciality Foods has more than doubled its chiller capacity at its manufacturing plant in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, with a £250,000 investment.This will provide for greater blast-chilling and holding capacity, allowing additional fresh ingredient handling, as well as extra capacity for Honeytop’s fresh and chilled naan bread production.n Lord Haskins, former chairman of Northern Foods and now government advisor on food and farming, will be the keynote speaker at the 2008 City Food Lecture, organised by the seven City Livery Companies, including the Worshipful Company of Bakers.Lord Haskins and a panel of food industry experts will address the impact of international food issues on the UK. The lecture will take place on 29 January 2008, at the Guildhall in London.n Scenes from the latest Harry Potter movie have been shot outside Lacock Bakery in Wiltshire. Owner Jean Sheard told British Baker: “It’s very exciting, as I’m a big fan and have read all the books. We expect that this will be good for business as fans like to visit the places where the movie was shot.”Most of the filming for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince took place at night.n A hooded youth robbed a Baker’s Oven shop in Crawley, West Sussex with a knife in a lunchtime raid last week. A bakery worker was forced to hand over several hundred pounds in the raid. Members of the public gave chase but could not catch the robber.n Quest Equipment and Wiesheu GmbH are among the latest companies to sign up as exhibitors at the Baking Industry Exhibition, due to take place at Birmingham’s NEC from April 6 to 9 2008.
Nicola Hemming, applications technologist at Renshaw:”Terry’s design immediately caught our eye and his broad use of sugarpaste techniques clearly showed both his versatility as a sugarcrafter and imagination as a designer. The finish of the cake was faultless and Terry’s attention to detail was outstanding. He made great use of the product to create a unique design, which particularly showed off his modelling skills.”One of the main things we were looking for was a broad use of colour in the winning design. We also felt that Terry was a fitting ambassador for keen sugarcrafters everywhere and a fine example of the outstanding talent that is clearly out there in the sugarcraft arena.
Sayers Bakery in Liverpool has begun talks with union officials over 150 redundancies, as it carries out an operational review which it said was “triggered by the worldwide escalation of raw materials and soaring energy and fuel costs”.In a statement, the company confirmed that it had entered a 90-day consultation period with staff at the Norris Green site, “which may include proposals for redundancies in certain parts of the business”.It said it had been trying to turn around the financial performance of the business for a number of years, but warned that without further action, certain parts of the business would be put at risk.Ian Hodson, district official of the Baker’s Food and Allied Workers’ Union, said it was beginning talks with the company. He added that the union would try to persuade the company to keep Sayers in Liverpool, “where it has a long history and tradition, which would be awful to lose”.Confirming that the 90-day consultation ends in July, a spokesman for Sayers stressed that the review was taking place at an operational level focusing on the supply chain and not its retail shops which, he said, would “continue to give our customers the same great products, service and value-for-money that we have always offered”.
Black Rock Grill is also exhibiting at the show.With its new cooking solution using hot volcanic rocks to offer grilled meals, the company will be highlighting the recently-launched Café Rock, suitable for sites such as cafés, bars and mobile caterers looking to “trade up”.The Café Rock oven package includes 16 rocks, oven, porcelain platters, accessories and marketing and maintenance support.”Using it is an easy way to increase covers and food cash turnover,” said Peter Hatter, director of Black Rock Grill. [http://www.blackrockgrill.co.uk]When: 6-8 OctoberWhere: Earls Court 2, LondonOpening Times:Mon 6 Oct & Tues 7 Oct: 10:00-17:00Wed 8 Oct 10:00-16:00For more information visit [http://www.therestaurantshow.co.uk]
Megans Bakery in Hirwaun, South Wales is seeking to appoint an administrator, director Steve Fogo has told British Baker.The company filed for administration on Tuesday 9 December, but Fogo said “it is too early too tell” if potential administrator, Resolve Partner, would be hopeful for a buyer for the firm. Fogo confirmed that all 56 employees have been informed and the issue of any wages due to them will be in the hands of the administrator, if appointed. Megans was a supplier to the Ferrari’s chain of 25 remaining retail shops, which were closed on Wednesday, 26 November. Both businesses were formerly part of Best Bakeries and saved in management buy-outs in June this year. South Wales-based Ferrari’s closed its 25 remaining shops following advice from the company’s financial advisers. For the full story, make sure you read the next issue of British Baker, out on 12 December.