Bakery retailer Greggs said this week that there was “growing excitement” in its 1,336-shop business as it experimented with innovative formats and ranges.MD Sir Michael Darrington told British Baker that Greggs was in a “learning phase” as it trialled ideas such as extended opening hours, range changes and new branding.The retailer revealed plans to overhaul its business in December to meet “growing demand for more aspirational products”.One of Greggs’ experiments is a Fresh to Go branded shop with healthy eating ranges, which opened in Lincoln last month.Three or four different trial store formats are currently being tested around the UK, Sir Michael revealed, of which the Lincoln outlet was the most radical. Greggs, the largest bakery retailer in the UK, will evaluate these trials during the year and incorporate successful ideas in the rest of the estate “in a gentle fashion”.Greggs was “very unlikely” to add a new sub-brand such as Fresh to Go to its business, added Sir Michael. Greggs was “experimenting in all areas” on range, he added, for example, trialling higher priced treat ranges, low-GI products and new cold drinks “as the mass market becomes more aspirational”.Sir Michael said that customers’ shopping habits were changing and so Greggs was experimenting with earlier and later trading hours to “satisfy demand for food on the go throughout the day”.Speaking this week as Greggs posted a drop in operating profit of 17.8% to £38.7m in the year to 30 December 2006 on sales of £551m, Sir Michael said 2006 was a challenging year, due to a fall in footfall and a £4.5m hike in energy costs.The closure of its Bakers Oven business in Scotland and the North cost it £3.5m.Sir Michael emphasised that Greggs was a “jolly good business” and that he had confidence in the future. Greggs had seen less reduction in footfall in the last three months and a 3.9% increase in like-for-like sales in the nine weeks to 3 March 2007.He commented: “I firmly believe that the group is embarking on an exciting period of change and progress for this year and beyond.” The group has also pledged to put more emphasis on refits and refurbishments in its estate this year.l Ian Gregg, the son of the founders of the business, will step down from the board of Greggs at its AGM in May this year.
Associated British Foods (ABF) said it had “stopped the rot” at its Allied Bakeries business as it posted preliminary results for the year to 15 September this week.The plant bakery business relaunched its flagship Kingsmill brand in February, which improved sales volumes and helped “stem decline in market share” raising it above pre-relaunch levels, said a spokesman. “We have stopped the rot you could say,” he commented.However, Allied Bakeries still underperformed over the year due to rising costs. It had a particularly poor first half when lower volumes and non-recovery of higher wheat costs affected profitability, ABF said.A combination of price increases to recover increased wheat costs from 2006, higher volumes and significant enhancements in operating efficiency resulted in an improved performance in the second half.Unprecedented increases in the cost of bread-quality flour over the summer of 2007 had resulted in the need for further bread price increases which are being negotiated with the major retailers, it revealed.Details of the increase amount are not being revealed. The company already put up its prices in September, reflected in an 8p a loaf price increase at the retail end.ABF’s sugar business was hit by the impact of sugar regime reform, it said, with China and South Africa its big growth markets on sugar.
Biscuit company McVitie’s says it will be launching new-look fig rolls on the Irish market soon, after packaging has been changed following a recent court case (British Baker, 12 October, pg 12).Paul Parkins, United Biscuits’ director, Ireland, said it is currently amending the packaging of its fig rolls to “further distinguish” it from rival Jacob Fruitfield (Jacob’s) and will then continue with plans to launch them into the Irish market.McVitie’s was ordered to change packaging on its fig rolls in the case brought by Jacob’s over me-too packaging, leaving it with a stock of up to 60,000 fig rolls it could not sell in Ireland. More than 5,000 packets are being divided equally between Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin and Crosscare, a charity for under-privileged people.
Discount supermarket Aldi is to expand in Ireland, with 35 new stores planned.The project, costing €350m, will see around 490 new jobs created in-store and around 160 at a second regional distribution centre, to be located in Mitchelstown, County Cork.The announcement came after Aldi’s Irish business reported a 20% increase in sales since January 2008. According to the company, over 40% of its groceries are now sourced from Irish suppliers, including all of its cakes.Work on the new distribution centre is due to start in March 2009. Aldi currently operates 61 stores in Ireland.
Aryzta has announced a healthy performance in its half-year results. Adjusted profit rose by 14.6% within its food division with underlying revenue increasing 6% for the six months to 31 January 2009.The global specialist bakery company saw operating profit grow 11% to E64m in its Food Europe division, which includes the Delice de France, Cuisine de France and Heistand brands.Operating profit was up 25.9% to E34.3m in its Food North America division, which includes the La Brea Bakery and Otis Spunkmeyer brands, and up 50.9% to E0.9m in its Food Developing Market division.Chief executive officer Owen Killian said that the business had “displayed excellent defensive characteristics in the current challenging economic climate”, adding that it remains focused on cash and continued earnings growth.Aryzta also confirmed that its Grangecastle bakery, distribution and R&D centre in Dublin are fully commissioned and on budget. According the statement released it “offers an opportunity to develop the UK/Irish business into new channels, such as the multiple retail channel in the UK”. Aryzta formed in August last year through the merger of Irish company IAWS and Swiss Bakery firm Hiestand.
Finsbury Foods’ shares have taken a tumble after the firm announced that preliminary discussions regarding the sale of the company had ended.The bread and cake manufacturer’s shares shot up by around 5% following the announcement on 1 June that there had been a preliminary approach regarding a potential offer for the company. At that time, it said the approach was “exploratory in nature” and that it was doubtful an offer would be forthcoming.Its shares are currently down 10.47% following the announcement that “discussions have terminated”.
UK oven manufacturer, Double D Food Engineering (a division of JBT FoodTech), has developed The Revoband Panini Bar Marker for the retail and foodservice sectors, designed for bulk quantities of panini bread in any required configuration.It can produce bar marks straight across the breads or at an angle and works with continuous ovens, regardless of how the bread is delivered from the oven.
Memory Lane Cakes has confirmed that, following the conclusion of its consultation, 95 workers at its factory in Cardiff are to be made redundant. The firm, part of Finsbury Food Group, entered into a period of consultation on 3 December 2009 on changes to shift patterns at the premium cake manufacturer. Finsbury had said it was looking to change production from seven to five days a week, with 95 out of Memory Lane’s 1,000 staff at risk of losing their jobs. A joint statement from Memory Lane and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, announced: “Despite efforts from both management and the union to find alternative solutions, it is with regret that the proposed redundancies will go ahead. “These redundancies are being made to protect the viability of the business going forward.”
Hummingbird dealFamous cupcakery Hummingbird Bakery has announced it has signed a two-book deal with Harper-Collins. The new book will be out in Spring 2011 with a focus on themed baking and decorating. The London-based bakery published its first cookery book last year. Hummingbird has also just launched an online ordering facility for pick-up from its three branches or delivery within central London.BAKO accreditedBAKO North Western has gained BRC Global Standard for Storage and Distribution (rating 1) accreditation on its first attempt, following a two-day audit of its systems by SAI Global. To gain accreditation to this standard, companies storing and distributing products must comply with best-practice for product safety and operational integrity, demonstrating due diligence through all stages of the product supply chain.Milk powder offerDairy manufacturer Pritchitts is so confident that caterers won’t be able to tell the difference between its Millac Classic Milk Powder and fresh milk, it is offering them the chance to apply for a free sample. The milk powders can be used in baking, cooking and hot beverage applications. For a free 125g sample visit www.pritchitts.com the offer ends 31 December 2010.Muntons’ bike driveTwenty-seven staff at malted ingredients company Muntons have taken advantage of the Government-sponsored ’bike to work’ scheme, and bought new bicycles worth up to £1,000 each with payments staggered over 12 months and tax-free. Muntons has calculated that the move will reduce car journeys to work and back by 31,000 miles each year, the equivalent of 4.5 tonnes less in carbon emissions.
The Bertinet Bakery is to launch its new organic bread range in Selfridges later this month. The initial range, which comprises more than a dozen breads, will be available in London’s Selfridges Food Hall, from 27 September.The breads will also be available via Riverford Organic’s delivery box scheme in franchises across much of the south west of England and Wales.The organic range includes a 1.2kg sourdough, Italian ciabatta, and rustic rye loaves, as well as a regularly changing speciality loaf, which will showcase the best ingredients of the season, such as provençal olive & lavender or prune, cardamom & rum. All loaves are certified by The Soil Association. The bakery, headed up by award-winning baker, chef and author Richard Bertinet, will also be supplying bread to restaurants including Angela Hartnett at the York & Albany, Tom Norrington Davies at Great Queen Street and many other restaurants and delicatessens in London, Cardiff and the south west. The Bath-based business was also crowned winner of the Baked Goods category in the Soil Association Organic Food Awards, earlier this month, for its sourdough bread.