Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, wants to see employers’ own training programmes recognised as part of a new framework governing vocational qualifications across the industry.It is currently negotiating with employers and training provi-ders on ways to update in-house schemes to make them the basis for National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs).The move follows consultation from Improve with employers on how to make NVQs and SVQs more flexible and more relevant to the workplace. It would mean employers’ own tailor-made in-house training programmes could be used as a basis for universally-recognised qualifications, with government funding on offer for the training they provide.At present, 80% of training within the food and drinks sector occurs in-house, but only 15% leads to an externally accredited qualification. Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve, said: “In the food and drink industry we have had a rather chaotic situation where dissatisfaction with the structure of vocational qualifications has led to different employers running different training courses in isolation from one another. This has contributed to a perceived shortage of skills that can transfer from job to job, and in some cases has posed a barrier to career progression for employees.”
Premium café chain Patisserie Valerie is forging ahead with expansion plans, despite the economic downturn, opening four more outlets in the next fortnight and a further nine by the spring of next year.”We’re obviously aware of the economic situation, but, looking at the performance of our new stores, there is no justification for cutting back on our expansion plans,” said Paul May, MD of Patisserie Holdings, part of private equity group Risk Capi-tal Partners, which bought a majority stake in Patisserie Valerie in 2006.”In difficult times people want to cheer themselves up with an affordable treat.”The 16-shop chain has acquired a further nine sites, mainly in the capital, which are to be refurbished in the coming weeks. These stores are expected to be open by the spring of next year at the latest.May also revealed that the company’s franchise business in the Middle East was progressing well, with the first shop due to open in Dubai in December. Three other sites are expected to open soon after.Patisserie Holdings, which also owns 40-shop Midlands-based patisserie chain Druckers, plans to open a total of 125 Patisserie Valerie stores in the UK in the next three to five years. None of the UK outlets will be franchised.In other news, Druckers’ central bakery was closed down by environmental health officers earlier this month after heavy rain led to a leak in the roof. May said the company lost 17 hours of production while the roof was repaired, but the company was able to transfer capacity to its Patisserie Valerie production sites.
Employers have been invited to set the agenda for a new food and drink ’excellence’ qualification.Food and drink sector skills council Improve is setting up a working group of employers, including bakers, to consult on best practice in areas such as lean manufacturing, sustainability and quality. The results will be used as a basis for a new publicly accredited qualification, as part of the national Qualifications and Credits Framework (QCF).Warburtons, United Biscuits and Northern Foods have all expressed an interest in the group’s first meeting on 25 June, and Improve is keen to hear from more companies of any size.
Martin Lightbody has stepped down as chief executive of Finsbury Foods, with immediate effect, as the Group announces an improved second-half performance in its full-year results. Lightbody will be replaced by chief operating officer John Duffy and will assume the position of non-executive chairman following the firm’s Annual General Meeting on 25 November.Lightbody told British Baker it had always been the plan to hold the position of chief executive for a 12-month period, following the departure of former CEO Dave Brooks last year, but said that he would still be “heavily involved with the business” in his new role.Finsbury’s results for the 53 weeks to 4 July 2009 revealed revenue growth of 8%, with like-for-like sales up 2%. However, it said profits had suffered with the high cost of raw materials such as eggs, chocolate and sugar.Group revenue stood at £178.9m (52 week period to 28 June 2008: £165.1m), an increase of £13.8m (8.4%) year-on-year. Adjusted profit before tax was £5.0m (2008: £7.7m).However the firm announced a 78% “improvement” in adjusted profit before tax in the second half of the year, compared to the first.Its bread and ‘free from’ division saw like-for-like growth up 14%, and larger cake sales continued to grow in line with the overall ambient cake market, up 2% on last year.Finsbury has seen sales of its Thorntons branded cakes rocket by over 70% during the year, making it the fastest-growing brand in the cake market, according to the firm. Sales of its WeightWatchers branded cakes also rose, up 25%.Duffy has assisted Lightbody since September 2008, and has held previous positions at WT Foods, Noon Products, Golden Wonder and Mars.To read the full story see the next issue of British Baker, out 9 October.
Gallani to leave BCCCBarbara Gallani is to step down from her position as sector manager for the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Sector Group and take up a new role. From January 2010, she will be the new director of Food Safety and Science at the Food and Drink Federation.Greggs winnerBakery manager Paul Norman has taken the title for Greggs East’s Instore Baker of the Year competition. Norman, who manages Greggs’ Bedford store, also won two individual categories for the best jam doughnut and large bloomer. Greggs supplier ADM sponsored the first prize a trip to Paris for Norman and his wife, which includes tickets for a show at the Moulin Rouge, a visit to a bakery exhibition and a tour of a French bakery.True Taste successThornhill Farm Shop, near Cardiff, won Gold in the Baked and Confectionery Small category at the True Taste Awards for its lemon drizzle cake. South Caernarfon Creameries topped the Large Producer category with its Pot au Citron and Pot au Chocolat desserts.Ginsters’ palm pledgeGinsters is the first savoury pastry brand to join the GreenPalm scheme to support the production of sustainable palm oil in Indonesia. See pg14 for a full analysis of how ’green’ palm oil is affecting the baking industry. Diet helps mentalityA high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet could improve your psychological state, according to recent research in the Archives of Internal Medicine journal. The study also revealed no difference in weight loss when compared with a high-fat, low-carb diet, similar to the Atkins diet.
Leicestershire-based Geary’s Bakeries is to relocate to a new site and double production of its loaves, following a £1m investment.Joint managing director Tony Marriott told British Baker that Geary’s hopes to be up and running at its new bakery, in Barrow upon Soar, by the end of March 2010. “The company is relocating from its original site – in Ratby – where it has been for 104 years,” he said. The move is due to the increasing logistical difficulties of, for example, getting supplies, such as flour silo deliveries to the bakery, which is currently located in the centre of a village. “It’s also now a very old building,” said Marriott.The move will enable the bakery to ramp up its production. “We currently produce around 700-800,000 speciality rolls a week and about 50,000 loaves a week – and we are expecting to be able to produce 100,000 loaves a week,” he said.The firm has been working on getting the new site ready since June last year, including extensions to the building. The new bakery, based in Hayhill Industrial Estate, is only 10 miles from the old site, but was not previously a bakery, so there has been a lot of work involved, explained Marriott. “Travelling ovens are being put in at the moment, and the provers are already in,” he added.Geary’s had been looking for a suitable site for about three years. Marriott said it had been important to find one close to the original bakery, so that the existing staff could easily move with the firm.The bakery employs around 70 staff at present, but Marriott said there are hopes to employ around 110 staff when the new site is fully up and running.Geary’s predominantly produces bread and rolls for major retailers and sandwich producers, including Samworth Brothers and Uniq.
Richard Hamilton of HamiltonBIG, a creative retail and brand consultancy, talks through the three Ps of a shopfitWe all make mistakes, but some are far more costly than others. In shopfitting there are some obvious ones that are worth avoiding, but these three Ps are the most critical: planning, programme and price.Planning can be a hassle. Take a typical 1960s shop in a high street and you want the best signage you can get, you want to replace the shopfront and you want to open up spaces to locate the fridges and increase covers. But for reasons sometimes beyond the realm of logic, you are held back for at least eight weeks by the bureaucracy of red tape and middle management it happens countless times.Yet in some cases, planning is vital historic buildings are a case in point. But whether we agree with it or not, the costs of not applying for planning can be a serious mistake, affecting the programme with potentially bank-breaking consequences.Programme is the second ’P’ and is critical to ensure the budget is adhered to. There is plenty to take into consideration. If you want to start building a store in a month’s time, you need to appoint a shopfitter, agree a price and allow them a lead-in period for the job at least two weeks in advance, as they have to organise labour and order in materials. Once on-site, you or preferably a project manager have to keep pushing the programme, as additional days on-site cost you dearly.The final ’P’ is price the most important P not to get wrong. The cost of building store is critical to your business and any mistakes here will have the greatest impact on your payback period, your weekly sales budget and, ultimately, your profit. Agree a cost with a shopfitter a JCT contract can ensure you’re covered legally and make sure you’ve signed off a scope of works that you’ve seen and agreed. Manage your expectations on budget, remembering a contingency. If you can cover off these three Ps thoroughly, any mistakes that could happen should be highlighted and rectified before they begin to have an effect.In fact, there is one final P, plastic flowers just don’t do it.l Next month: how to source the best construction [email protected]
North Yorkshire deli and cake producer Lewis & Cooper has signed a deal to supply Selfridges with its handmade luxury fruit cakes in the run-up to Christmas this year.Hundreds of Lewis & Cooper’s cakes, including iced and gluten-free varieties, will be on sale in Selfridges stores in London, Birmingham and Manchester from October, after the company impressed journalists at Selfridges’ Christmas press day in July.Linda Walters, Lewis & Cooper’s sales development manager, said: “I’m very proud that such a prestigious retailer as Selfridges has recognised the quality of our made-in-Yorkshire cakes.”Lewis & Cooper, which has stores in Northallerton and Yarm-on-Tees, already wholesales many of its own-label produce to delis, farm shops and restaurants, including Harvey Nichols, English Heritage and The National Trust.Last year, the company made more than 31,000 fruit cakes and 44,000 plum puddings in its kitchens in Northallerton.>>Wholesale success for fine food firm Lewis & Cooper
Ginsters has taken a step away from its traditional pastry-based snacks with its latest offering Cornish Bara, which is made with a soft bread dough outer.It is the first time the firm has launched a bread dough-based product, and it has spent the past 12 months developing the range.Head of brand marketing Andy Valentine told British Baker that the product has required investment in a lot of new machinery at its Callington site in Cornwall, additional staff training, and extensive development work in a suitable dough recipe. The dough does not contain yeast, but does contain baking powder in order to achieve the right aeration.The range, initially in Flame Grilled Chicken, Spicy Meatball and Hog Roast varieties, has been developed specifically for microwave baking. The Bara which is the Cornish word for bread contains significantly less fat than a standard pasty.Valentine said the launch was likely to spark a raft of NPD for other dough-based products.The brand will benefit from a £6.5m marketing campaign, including the launch of Ginsters’ first iPhone app, as well as TV advertising from June. It will be available in the impulse sector from mid-March, and rolled out to the multiples in the summer.>>’Man plea’ is centre of new Ginsters drive
Pie-maker Peter’s Food Service has teamed up with brewer and pub operator Greene King as part of a long-term campaign to support UK pubs.The ‘Pies for Pubs’ partnership enables Peter’s to approach many of Greene King’s tenanted pubs across England, offering to install bar-top pie cabinets and to deliver pies and pastries.The firm said negotiations between Peter’s and Greene King are still ongoing, but it is expected that additional joint promotions and product collaborations will be announced in the near future.“Our programme provides a simple, hassle-free way for pubs to increase their revenue, and it is fantastic to see big names like Greene King embracing it,” commented James Osgood, trade marketing director of Peter’s Food Service.>>Peter’s ramps up sporting contracts