Des BensonDes Benson, who died in Dublin on January 3, 2007,was born in Co Cavan in 1921 and had a long career in bakery and flour milling journalism, marketing and public relations. Educated at St Patrick’s College, Cavan and University College, Dublin, he was an outstanding Gaelic football player in the late 1940s.In his earlier career, he worked as a news journalist for Independent Newspapers in Dublin and for many leading UK newspapers.During the 1950s, the IRA campaign in Northern Ireland meant that newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror needed substantial daily copy from him. He also moved into broadcasting, working with RTE, the state-owned broadcasting station in Ireland.From there, he went to Ranks, which then had three flour mills in the Republic – in Dublin, Cork and Limerick – and bakeries in Dublin, Kilcock, Co Kildare and Cork. He quickly rose to a senior position at Ranks, becoming head of marketing for the group in Ireland.Eventually, he left to set up his own public relations consultancy and subsequently did public relations work for the Irish flour milling industry for many years. He was a very well-known and respected figure within the industry.Des was also passionately interested in horse racing and, in his later years, did much charity work for fellow sportsmen who had fallen on hard times. He enjoyed his retirement, in his beautiful south Dublin house.He is survived by his wife Eileen, two sons, two daughters and six grandchildren.
The London & South East Region of Master Bakers will hold its 7th LASER Golf Day at Surrey National Golf Club, on July 10, 2007. All abilities are welcome and there will be prizes for handicaps and non-handicaps, a team award and raffle.The entry fee per team of four is £188 and the day includes coffee and a bacon roll on arrival, 18 holes of golf and a three-course Awards Dinner in the evening.Contact Ray Reddick, 18 Garland Point, Sussex Wharf, Shoreham by Sea, West Sussex BN43 5PF or 07774 188559 (daytime) 01273 465305 (evening).
Tinone has developed a device that brands your toast with your football team’s initials or national flag. At Ipswich Football Club, they sold out within two days – at a crisp £45 a pop!
As food-to-go consultants, we often get asked about where you should turn to as a business for new insights or strategies on how to sell more products – from bakers and café owners to independent retailers. Never has this been more important than in these harsh economic times.Exhibitions can be an inspirational source of market insights, and we even picked up a few tips ourselves when we got involved in organising the seminars at the Café+ show in March.For example, did you know that people leave the house 13 times a month without eating breakfast, but 60% said they would consume bakery products if they were available to them out of home? That nugget came from BB columnist Georgina Wild of market research firm him!, one of the speakers at the Birmingham NEC.Or how about this one: three-quarters of convenience store customers are men and, on average, they buy 2.1 items per visit. If the product they had in mind is not available, 44% of them would still buy an alternative product, providing they could find it in the store. This proves that ensuring the availability of your products in-store makes all the difference to your success.Another presenter, Marco Arrigo from Illy Coffee, believed bakery retailers and independent cafés could challenge, and beat, the big coffee chain brands by innovating and focusing on delivering three best-of-class hot beverages – espresso, cappuccino and café latte – with an emphasis on the art of barista coffee theatre and linking sales to bakery and confectionery categories.Another top tip was the potential to increase coffee sales by over 30%, through using a good bean-to-cup machine, such as the one demonstrated by coffee machine supplier Melitta, or with a barista offer. People are prepared to pay a price premium for a hand-crafted hot drink, which can help push your customers’ average bakery food and hot drink spend through the £5 barrier – a price point that is all the more challenging as people continue to tighten their purse strings.Contact: [email protected] 020 8572 3780
While most people will be aware of the major bakery wholesalers such as Bako and BFP lesser known are the smaller regional suppliers that are making inroads into craft bakery. Walker Humphrey, which supplies esteemed retailers like Bettys of Harrogate and Cooplands of Doncaster, is a case in point.It has succeeded by targeting the many one-shop craft bakers and patisseries, chocolatiers, sugarcraft shops and, to a lesser extent, hotels such as Radissons in the north of England. Now, it is looking to expand over to Lancashire and other areas with the appointment of a new sales manager next month.In the past 10 years, ingredients distribution company Walker Humphrey has developed customer accounts and better relationships with key suppliers, which have resulted in a doubling of its turnover from £1m to £2m.”I feel a unique aspect of our company is our active involvement with clients,” says purchasing director Martin Humphrey. “Approximately 60% of our 250 customer accounts are visited 12 times a year. I believe very few companies, if any, in our market can state this.”Clearly it works, since in 2007, it became apparent that Walker Humphrey had outgrown its previous site and, with a higher customer demand on suppliers obtaining third party accreditation, relocation to a larger, purpose-built site became a pressing issue.The move to Sherburn, which took place in the spring of 2009, hails a new era in this lively family business. The 6,000sq ft premises have been in operation for just six months, but with the inclusion of new chilled and ambient ingredient ranges, the company’s turnover has seen record figures.Family concernMartin Humphrey is convinced that the family aspects of the business give it the edge when it comes to customer interface. “The mid-90s saw our competitors sustain a strong hold on the bakery market share and we were in danger of losing out,” he recalls. “Realising the requirement for new product lines and improved buying power, we leased four 20ft containers and used additional warehouse storage in Morley. This allowed the business to achieve improved purchase prices and compete in the buying and selling markets. The lesson is to anticipate such changes and not sit around waiting for them to happen.To achieve good business relationships with customers, you have to start from within, he adds: “The personnel employed through Walker Humphrey have remained with us, on average, well over 15 years. We learned early on that employees can frequently hold positive ideas and important customer feedback, which we can often overlook.”As the company kicks on, the next step will be investing in marketing as well as harbouring plans to branch into the frozen market in the near future.
Chevler has announced it is to introduce a new production planning system, in order to cope with soaring demand for its baking cases and muffin wraps. The company has said that, shortly, it expects to announce record turnover and profit figures for its first year of operation under new leadership, following a management buy-out in February last year.The new production planning system, which is being phased in over the next couple of weeks, has been designed to help reduce lead times on special products, as well an increasing availability of catalogue lines. The firm added that the system will also enable it to respond faster to fluctuations in demand.“We have always striven to deliver regular product lines, but our business and volumes have recently grown to such an extent that sudden fluctuations in demand have started to pose far more problems than they previously did,” explained MD Stuart Whelan.“A key element of our new approach will be a marked improvement in the day-to-day visibility of both capacity and demand. It will result in better decision-making and we will be able to react much faster to unforeseen events,” he added.
Pub chain Barracuda Group plans to roll out Costa coffee across its 217 outlets, as well as a new breakfast menu featuring baked goods such as croissants, muffins and bacon sandwiches.After piloting Costa coffee in selected outlets, the chain will extend the offer to 100 pubs by Christmas and the rest of the estate in 2011. The roll-out is accompanied by the introduction of 9am opening in Barracuda’s pubs and the launch of a new breakfast menu to capitalise on morning custom. Sausage, bacon and fried egg sandwiches will be available along with pastries, toasted teacakes and muffins. The Danish pastry range is from Bakehouse, muffins from the Handmade Bakery Group and teacakes from Fletchers. Mark McQuater, chief executive of Barracuda, said: “We are confident that Costa will be positively received by our customers, driving a substantial increase in coffee sales and further growing all-day trade in our pubs, building on our recent success in this area to date.”
Jonathan Winchester, managing director of mystery shopping and customer service company Shopper Anonymous, asks are your staff really making the sale?Sales are at the heart of any business and giving staff even a basic level of sales skills can make a huge difference to profits. This doesn’t mean asking them to give every customer the hard sell, but ensuring they know how to give good customer service at the same time as selling effectively.Selling is a five-step process. Step one is the introduction; the welcome and small talk to establish a rapport. Step two is asking questions and finding out what the customer might want. The third step is telling the customer the things they need to make a purchasing decision, while step four is negotiating not necessarily the price, but the choice of purchase or selling-on. The final step is finishing off: the ’thank you’, farewell and the encouragement to the customer to return.The key step that most staff get wrong is stage two, finding out what the customer actually wants. Often, staff members don’t do it all; they just tell the customer lots of information they probably don’t want to hear. For example, when a customer comes in for their lunch, stands back and looks at the counter, the staff member starts telling them about the products: “We’ve got sausage rolls, pasties, sandwiches, jam tarts” and so on, rather than asking them the relevant questions, such as, “Are you buying for yourself?”, “How hungry are you?”, “Is it for lunch or afternoon tea?”, “Do you have a sweet tooth?” or “Any special dietary requirements?”. Using the open questions, starting how, why, when, which and what really can help.Once you have the vital information, you can match the product to the customer need and make the customer feel they’ve had personalised service. What you don’t want staff to do is tell the customer loads of information that is irrelevant as the customer finds that frustrating and they don’t feel personally appreciated.The other stage that many staff struggle with is step 4, the negotiation. We’ve asked the customer questions, we’ve told them what we’ve got and now is time to sell ’the sizzle, not the sausage’ in other words, the benefits. Mentioning that the sandwiches were made that morning with bread made in your own ovens really can help. It’s at this point that you close the sale the customer makes their decision. You wrap it up, take their money, give them a reason to return, such as a loyalty card, and say you hope to see them again.As the owner or manager of a business, do a quick role-play with your staff. Play the role of the customer, walk into the store and say, “I’m hungry”, then see how staff set about identifying what you want and how they can make the sale. The old-fashioned role-play really does work.www.shopperanonymous.co.uk
This was with the aim of making it easier for employers to understand discrimination legislation. The Act applies to England, Scotland and Wales and most of its provisions came into force in October 2010, with some further additions in April 2011 and some aspects being implemented through subsequent regulations.The Act identifies nine ’protected characteristics’. These are: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation.While employees have been protected against direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of the above for several years, the protection was extended to cover associative discrimination on the grounds of being associated with someone who has a protected characteristic, and discrimination by perception discrimination on the grounds that you think that someone may have a protected characteristic. One major change included ensuring any questions regarding disability or medical conditions are posed only after an offer of employment is made and accepted, unless related to the selection process to allow reasonable adjustments to be made for example access for the interview or unless the questions are intrinsic to the role. Guidance is still awaited to help define disability, as this term has altered a lot over the past few years.Equal pay obviously hit the agenda again under the equality discussion and was made all the more topical by a major film Made in Dagenham. Equal pay also continued to hit the news headlines, as many cases involved large numbers of employees and, therefore, large payouts, primarily in the public sector. However, while one of the most controversial aspects of the Equality Act the ability for employers to positively discriminate when faced with two equally-qualified candidates will still come into force in April, the government has decided against some of the other provisions in the Act, such as the socio-economic duty and the ability to require employers of more than 250 staff to publish their gender pay gaps.Actions to takel Check your recruitment documents carefully. Ensure that any application forms or interview checklists do not ask pre-employment health questions. Ensure that any pre-employment health questionnaires are only sent out after an offer has been made and accepted.l Review your recruitment material for example, adverts, information for candidates, application forms and any online tests to ensure that they are accessible to all.l Check your policies, employee handbook and any template letters to ensure they comply with the current Equality Act.l Ensure your employees and managers are fully aware of the Act and its implications, including the new elements of discrimination by perception and association.l Be aware that any ’gagging clauses’ in contracts are unenforceable if the employee reveals his/her salary as part of a ’relevant pay disclosure’ if it is made to assist in discovering whether there are differences in pay related to a protected characteristic.
Despite revenue growth for its Kingsmill brand, strong competition, driven by a high level of promotion, has squeezed margins at Allied Bakeries.Parent company Associated British Food’s (ABF’s) pre-close statement said Allied had continued to invest – notably with the new bread line at its Stockport bakery. However, it said a “rationalisation charge” was made for the closure of two smaller bakeries, and the cost of further overhead reductions.ABF said that profit in its sugar business will be substantially ahead of last year, driven by a strong sales increase in the UK, as well as further improvement in Spain.Its interim results, to 3 March 2012, are due to be announced on 24 April 2012.