Administrators are considering a number of offers for Harvestime (2005), after setting a deadline for bids of today (Friday, December 16).Speaking as British Baker went to press, joint administrator John Kelly of Begbies Traynor said he still expects a couple more offers and hopes to get a deal finalised by Christmas.Australian investor Ian Allen remains an interested party, and will be sitting down with administrators before the deadline, Mr Kelly said. He added: “I don’t know if Harvestime will be split. The way that people put offers together requires some work from administrators to decide which to accept.”Meanwhile, trading continues to improve at Harvestime’s Walsall bakery, which is being run by administrators, Mr Kelly said. Losses had been significantly reduced since administrators were called in. “We hope to break even fairly soon,” said Mr Kelly.Overall quality of deliveries to Tesco has improved from being quite poor in the first week, and the workforce remains co-operative and supportive, he added.A skeleton staff is being retained at Harvestime’s Leicester and Peterborough bakeries, to maintain security and show buyers around, Mr Kelly said. Details of the 450 staff made redundant by administrators will be given to buyers when a sale completes, with the hope they may be re-employed, he added. Harvestime (2005) called in administrators on November 18. It was apparently losing £250,000 a week at the time.
The Federation of Bakers (FoB) reported a trading loss of £29,278 for the year to 31 March 2006 as it held its AGM on 10 May. It reported revenue of £481,013 with expenditure of £510,29, including £71,379 spent on setting up a system to manage new Tesco Omega bread baskets, and £141,734 on public relations. The FoB’s net assets were £114,535 at the end of the year, down from £143,813 in 2005.
Long before Peter Kay uttered the immortal line in Phoenix Nights, “Garlic bread – it’s the future, I’ve tasted it!” a Northern Irish bakery was having the very same flashbulb epiphany.Portadown’s Evron Foods, which was established back in 1983 to supply raw frozen dough, has swept up over 90% of the Northern Irish garlic breads market since it became an early adopter of the now-familiar product in 1987. Since then, it has diversified its speciality breads, supplying some major customers – not least, the high street sandwich giant Subway.But Northern Ireland is only one part of the success story, accounting for just 7% of Evron’s business in the year to August 2006. Instead, the bulk of products was supplied to Great Britain and represented some 65% of the firm’s £15 million turnover. In August last year, it opened up a new production plant in South Wales to boost capacity and bring it closer to market.The business now has three strands: packaged products for retail, whether branded Easibake or own-label; par-baked and frozen dough products for in-store bakeries; and foodservice, which includes Subway, restaurants and wholesalers. The biggest increase in the UK has been in its chilled business and there are imminent plans to produce added-value breads in the new Pontypool facility. “As a temperature-controlled supplier, we give the product life by either chilling or freezing it; with the ability to produce a fair volume and distribute safely, we’re a growing business,” explains MD Morris Evans.value-added focusEvron dropped its pastry production in 1988 and is now focused solely on value-added breads with toppings and fillings. “There were a number of very large companies specialising in frozen pastries, and we found that we couldn’t offer an advantage, so we concentrated on the areas where we could,” says Morris.The time is now ripe for bake-off speciality breads market to take a step forwards, he believes. “We are developing specially-shaped breads with different fillings and toppings,” says Morris. “Value-added breads in the market are mostly based around garlic and we’ve got to move forwards now. The variety of toppings can be added to, such as chargrilled vegetables, as well as injecting flavours other than butter and garlic.”Subway has been looking at increasing its bread offering, and Evron has been developing ways to extend the subs retailer’s offer with, among other things, a breakfast choice and a carrier for later in the evenings. Some urban Subway locations trade well into the early hours, and the range needs to reflect this, says marketing director Dominic Downey. “Subway has tasked us, along with the German manufacturer of Subway breads, to come up with ideas that will complement their sandwiches,” he says.Evron exclusively supplies a white and a brown bread frozen into Subway’s UK and Irish outlets, which are then topped in-store and baked-off to give a range of five breads – wheat, honey and oat, hearty Italian, Italian, and cheese and herbs. So how did Evron secure the three-year Subway rolling contract? “We were basically in the right place at the right time,” says Downey. Evron was approached in 1991 and subsequently developed the bread products according to specifications issued from the States. Originally supplying just a single store in Dublin, Subway’s UK and Irish operations have since snowballed and the firm now has 780 stores, with a projected target of 2,010 shops by 2010.inspired by US successInitially, Subway’s European arm was born out of master franchisees inspired by the concept’s success in the US, who then imported it back home. Bread, meats, cheese and other ingredient suppliers needed to be sourced and Evron was among the original group. Following strong growth, Subway HQ has since introduced its own regional director to oversee European strategy.”It has taken a lot of hard work to first establish and then develop the brand, but Subway is a great concept and everyone involved is passionate about it,” says Downey. “In the last three to four years we have seen momentum really pick up. We’ve kept pace and grown as their business has grown – they’re a significant and valued customer.”All breads destined for Subway are shipped from Northern Ireland. As the US sandwich giant stampedes towards its growth targets, there is significant spare capacity in the new Pontypool plant to step up production. “A lot of our developments, both here and in Northern Ireland, clearly have Subway in mind and we provide a balance of capacity for their use,” says Evans.Financial support from the Welsh Development Agency and National Assembly for Wales played some role in its decision to set down roots in Wales, as well as quick access to the M4 and an easy route to Birmingham, London and the south. “One of the reasons we needed a GB-based manufacturing site was because we needed to be closer to the market,” says Downey. “From a commercial point of view, that stretch of water between Ireland and the UK mainland adds both cost and time.”EQUIPMENT INVESTMENTWith two Mecatherm French bread lines already installed, the facility has space to house double the amount of equipment and that capacity could be doubled again by extending the facility. “We are about a quarter of where we want to be with machinery on the Pontypool site. We will look at more development this year,” says Morris.Evron is taking speciality breads into the in-store bakery and has developed frozen bread dough products for Asda, including tear-and-share. Proved and baked-off in-store, they allow retailers to extend their range without having to make from scratch. They are then sold on the ambient shelves.”We have developed some tear-and-share breads that we sell into one of the key supermarkets, which are supplied frozen and baked-off and sold on the ambient shelves. That adds a couple of days’ shelf life,” says Downey. “We’re giving retailers a ready-made product, and there is a growing demand for that in the in-store bakery. We’re ready to extend that further.”RETAIL DEVELOPMENTDowney anticipates that its retail business in the UK will increase. “Apart from Asda, we also deal with Netto, Musgrave Budgens Londis and Waitrose. But we don’t deal with all the big retailers at present. It’s our plan to be a supplier to as many of the key players as we can, not forgetting our existing customer base which has helped us get where we are. We have had some customers for 20 years and haven’t lost sight of where we came from.”Flavour trends are favouring Mediterranean and Mexican-inspired bakery products, with jalapeños, chillies and sun-dried tomatoes increasingly used, he says. “Supermarkets are looking for that indulgent product that consumers might buy at the weekend. When developing breads, we look at the whole meal occasion and ask ourselves how would the product fit into that meal experience?”Like many other bakery manufacturers, health is a big consideration for Evron; it has reduced salt, fat and taken out hydrogenated and trans fats from its traditional garlic bread range. Functional breads, such as a low-GI bread, are also being considered. “We have the opportunity to develop significantly with our new site,” says Downey. “We’re hungry to develop business and we have a history of putting investment and resources in place in anticipation of our future business needs. There is still a long way for us to go. We don’t expect our competitors to roll over and let us take business off them, but we’re here to stay. n—-=== Evron Foods at a glance ===History: Started out supplying par-baked breads, frozen doughs and pastries to in-store bakeries in Northern Ireland. It progressed onto specialising in garlic bread and dropped the pastry side of the business.Founded: 1983Locations: 120,000sq ft in Portadown, Northern Ireland; 40,000sq ft in Pontypool, South WalesOwnership: private, run by MD Morris EvansProducts: Par-baked breads, raw frozen breads, value-added breads with toppings and fillingsMajor customers: Subway, Asda, WaitroseSupply split: Around 40% foodservice, 60% retailersBrand: EasibakeStaff: over 150 in Portadown, supplemented seasonally, and 40 in Pontypool
Food group Greencore has announced that its chief executive, David Dilger, will retire in March and Patrick Coveney, currently chief financial officer, will succeed him from that date.Greencore chairman Ned Sullivan said Dilger, who is aged 51 and has been chief executive for 12 years, had successfully transformed Greencore into one of Europe’s leading convenience foods producers, overcoming enormous challenges along the way.”In doing so, he has demonstrated vision, clarity of direction and unrelenting personal commitment to achieve our business objectives,” said Sullivan. He had seen the company change from being an agri-business involved in sugar production to a convenience food business and property development company.Coveney joined Greencore in 2005 as chief financial officer. He was appointed to the board in September of that year.
Pret A Manger is launching recycling facilities for customers at its branches this July.The ’co-mingled’ recycling will mean that all of the company’s product packaging can be placed in a single bin, ready for sorting later at the recycling plant.In a statement, Pret said: “This keeps it simple and ensures that we can recycle as much as possible.”When the scheme gets up and running, we will publish regular updates on the volumes recycled. We will do the same for all of our kitchen packa- ging too.”Eighty per cent of customers take the packaging out of the shop, according to Pret, which says it would like to see more office-based recycling put into place.
Wholesale giant Brakes has set its sights on becoming the num-ber one UK bakery foodservice wholesaler, following the launch of its new bakery division next week, which will target the coffee shop and catering sectors.The division, named La Boulangerie, includes Brakes’ existing bakery products alongside newly sourced products, swelling its number of bakery stock-keeping units (skus) from 190 to over 260, with further quarterly launches planned.Premium products within the range will be branded La Boulangerie and include bread, organic products, rolls, Viennoiserie, patisserie, muffins and traybakes, and encompass a number of industry firsts, such as ’rosemary treebark’ sand- wich bread.Half of the products have been sourced from the UK, including Oxfordshire-based artisan bread bakery Brown Sugar, with the rest supplied from France, Sweden and Belgium.Heading up the launch, Brakes’ bakery specialist Simon Cannell exclusively revealed to British Baker that it planned to improve top-end choice within the market and become a major player in foodservice bakery – a category valued by Brakes at £266m.”Within that market, there’s one key supplier and they pretty much own the market, alongside a few smaller businesses which are restricted in what they can do,” said Cannell.”Our speciality group portfolio has already got a butcher’s, greengrocer’s and fishmonger’s, and the one that stood out as missing was a traditional bakery business. We wanted to change the perception that Brakes was associated with commo- dity bread.”Country Choice, a bakery business within the Brakes group, will continue to focus on retail food-to-go, he added. “Because we have the Brakes Group behind us, it means we can truly specialise and just focus on bread, Viennoiserie and traditional bakery, as we have savoury pastries within the rest of the business.”
Office workers in the north of England and Scotland are the most likely to buy lunch in a bakery (13%), followed by those in the Midlands and Wales (11%) and the South (6%).A survey by Bakehouse found that supermarkets are the most popular place to buy lunch for Southern office workers (46%), while those in offices in the Midlands and Wales favour sandwich shops (40%) and Scots split their allegiance equally between supermarkets and sandwich shops (35%).When they are out shopping for food, sandwiches are the lunch of choice for the majority of workers around the country. However, those in the Midlands and Wales are the most likely to sample savoury pastries (27%) and sweet bakery products (18%), but Southerners are those most likely to buy other alternatives to sandwiches, such as fruit, crisps, ready meals or soup.And just to bust a few myths, Scottish and Northern office workers spend the most on lunch, forking out an average of £3.15 each day while 3% of Southerners confess to spending less than £1. Those in the North and Scotland are also the most likely to look out for meal deals (43%) while 74% of those in the Midlands and Wales said their lunch-buying habits hadn’t changed recently.Also, many office workers from every region can be tempted to make an impulse purchase if they see an attractive display of pastries: 56% in the South, 57% in the Midlands and 62% in the North.However, clear shelf labels, fully stocked shelves and freshly baked options are all deemed more important than meal deals or money-off offers by everyone across the regions. More than two-thirds of those in each region also agreed that they like to see new products in the freshly baked savoury category.
The 21st IBA international bakery exhibition, due to take place in Düsseldorf this year, will be larger than in 2006, despite the recession, say the organisers.Bernd Dieckmann, of IBA’s advisory board and MD of ingredients supplier Ireks, said: “The global economic crisis has left its mark on the baking industry, but has also provided opportunities. More exhibitors have registered this year and requested more space than for the previous IBA. There is also a growing number of foreign exhibitors.”Over 990 companies have booked over 123,000sq m for the show, set to run from October 3-9. Machinery and raw ingredients will dominate, but shopfitting refrigeration, sales and energy-saving will all feature strongly.The show is designed to appeal to all sectors of the industry, from the smallest craft baker up to the largest industrial firm. One area in Hall 11 will focus on coffee machines, accessories and coffee-making.As it is 60 years since the first IBA, any baker or confectioner celebrating a 60th birthday this year will be granted free admission for one day.l For details, visit www.iba.de.
The Nottinghamshire-based pie maker Lime Tree Pantry has increased its online sales by 600%, in one week, after it received a grant from the Food and Drink iNet to redevelop its website.Sales rocketed from an average of £333 per week to more than £2,331 in the first seven days following the launch of the site, designed by Voice Brand Design.Lime Tree Pantry, which produces more than 10,000 fruit and savoury pies a week, received a £5,967 Innovation Support Grant, which the firm match-funded. The website was then given a major facelift with the aim of encouraging more traffic to the site and, in turn, more orders.MD Damien Toms said the firm is “absolutely delighted” with the new website. “Voice Brand Design has opened our eyes to what using a professional marke-ting agency can do for sales. I am confident the site will continue to help us reach new customers.”Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda), the Food and Drink iNet is managed by a consortium, led by the Food & Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln and the University of Nottingham.
lCakes, Traybakes & SlicesBritish Baker welcomes renowned baker and author Dan Lepard into the fold, with regular recipes and comment, starting with traybake cakeslCrisps & SnacksCan you better merchandise your snacking options to encourage incremental sales at the till?lManufacturingWe speak to one Italian bakery supplier looking to make an impact on the UK retail sector