Based in Canvey Island, Essex, BB Grout is a bakery business of particular interest to me because it is very similar to my own in terms of turnover and number of shops. Noel and Sheila Grout, who own the company, are good friends of mine so I thought it was about time to venture ‘abroad’ and visit them. And I soon discovered you don’t even need a passport to get across the water!The company was founded in 1946 in a beach kiosk then expanded into a café and takeaway in a holiday camp and a works canteen. Noel joined the business in 1953 as a young boy, then in 1956 did his national service in the RAF, where he succeeded in burning down the cookhouse while serving in Germany! The RAF was obviously pleased to let him return to the family business where he has been ever since.Back in 1947 the café featured a small outhouse where doughnuts were fried 12 at a time. In today’s climate the ‘health police’ would not even allow ingredients to be stored there, but this was the company’s first steps to becoming a bakery. From small acorns large oak trees grow.Later the company moved to larger premises, which had room for a proper bakery at the rear and a shop in the front. On the first day it made six loaves and gave four away. The first day’s takings were £2. Things could only get better and they certainly did. The bakery has grown into a thriving, first-class business that many would envy.Family focusGrout’s the Bakers comprises 10 shops and a small property portfolio. It is a family business – sons Giles and Neale run the bakery’s production, daughter Claire handles the accounts and wife Sheila runs the office. I am not sure what Noel does, although he does have a collection of superb cars, one of which always includes a Rolls Royce. I suppose it must take a lot of time driving them around.That is a little unkind because he is an excellent businessman and the driving force in the company. Like most successful family companies, it is a joint effort by husband and wife.The philosophy of the company is very simple – make good quality products and keep the distribution area tight (it is about seven miles), which makes control easier and the company more flexible.Noel is a great believer in quality bread, which is made from scratch. It has a traditional taste and is pleasing to the eye. The bakery is well equipped with modern machinery. Two new ovens have been installed within the past two years. There is also a one-man doughnut frying system, confectionery depositor, bread plant and flow-wrapper, in addition to all the usual bakery equipment. These I mention to give you an idea of how the bakery is being improved and the forward thinking of this well-run company.The shops are all in good locations. Not knowing the area well, I would say they are in prime to ‘secondary-prime’ positions. Once again there is a continual upgrading – shop fittings are modern and give an air of hygiene and well being.I noticed that while the display units were well stocked with a good selection of products, the range appeared under control. So often I see bakery shops with far too large a variety of confectionery. Every shop has a bake-off oven and selection of hot savoury goods, plus sandwiches and filled rolls. Takeaway trade is a major part of total turnover. There is also a growing trade in buffets, which Noel intends to expand.Looking at the company as a whole, the question I always ask myself is what have I learnt and could others learn? The answer here is quite easy – keep it simple, do it well, keep tight financial control of costs and expand steadily without biting off more than you can chew.Business blueprintShould anyone be looking for a blueprint to grow a profitable family business one would have a long way to go to beat this Canvey Island small empire. The mixture of freehold and leasehold properties, tight control, family involvement, combined with an open-minded attitude to learning from others, is a lesson to us all. The company is forward looking and wants to expand steadilyWhile developing this family business Sheila has found time to bring up three children. With Noel’s enormous number of outside interests, in addition to his business, how on Earth they found time to make babies is amazing! When I tell you just a few of Noel’s activities you will appreciate the energy of the man. He spent some 30 years as a magistrate, has been a director of a greyhound stadium, chairman of school governors, an active Rotarian and Freemason, church warden and member of the Worshipful Company of Bakers. He is now chairman of the National Association of Master Bakers. While I confess I have probably missed out as many activities as I have mentioned, I guess that has given you some idea of the man and the company.Noel is at this time battling with lung cancer, but we all have total faith in him when he assures us he will beat it. To be honest, his lifestyle has not changed – he does just as much as ever. I tell him nearly every day to do less and he takes absolutely no notice.Giles appears to be taking on just as much as his father. He is LASER president this year and an active rugby player. He is also very involved with the family business.With good luck, the family will work hard and allow Noel and Sheila to spend more time in their second home in Lanzarote, Spain, as well as to visit us more in Cirencester.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is seeking responses from all retailers – including bakery retailers – to help gather data for its 13th annual Retail Crime Survey. The BRC hopes to gain a wider understanding on how crime affects the whole industry. The results will be published in October. Kevin Hawkins, BRC director general, says: “Last year’s survey showed that crime and crime prevention cost the retail sector £2.13 billion – up 9% on the year before. This is clearly an issue that affects all retail businesses. Retailers can access the questionnaire on www.brc.org.uk/crimesurvey.asp.
Ulma Packaging offers a range of flowrapping packaging equipment. For small to medium-sized bakery operations the recently updated Florida E flowrapper is suitable for a wide range of bakery applications. Dependent on product, it can operate at up to 150 packs per minute.Another Ulma machine, the Atlanta, has been used in bakeries with medium to high-volume production levels. This machine can easily incorporate a wide range of automatic and semi-automatic feeders and its three independent motors are synchronised by means of an electronic control.
There’s a lot going on in October – the British Society of Baking Conference on Tuesday October 9 at Coombe Abbey, Wawickshire; our own Bakers’ Fair at Bolton Arena on Sunday October 14 from 9.30am to 4pm; and a major morning conference on the future of Bakery education for craft and plant bakers and college tutors on Tuesday October 30 at Bakers Hall, London, EC3.But there is also a huge amount going on in the industry this week. Finsbury Foods has bought Anthony Alan and Harry Kear has sold his stake in Rathbones.Though nothing trumps the fact that Rank Hovis will be raising the price of flour by £85 per tonne and ADM has already announced a similar price rise (pg 4).The amount sounds incredible, doesn’t it? And it translates into a bread price rise of up to 10p on an 800g loaf. But, as I am sure you know, it is not just the UK that is experiencing huge rises in flour and other commodities.This week the Wall Street Journal in the US carried the headline: ’Historic surge in grain prices’. It went on to state: “Rising prices and surging demands for crops are producing the biggest changes in global food markets for 30 years.”Kansas wheat is up 70% or more. “The days of cheap grain are gone,” confirmed Dan Basse, president of AgResource, a Chicago commodity forecasting company. Meanwhile, Italian shoppers have been urged to boycott pasta (with no success!), Pakistan is curbing wheat exports, Russia is considering doing the same and the already hungry people of Zimbabwe have now run out of bread completely.We are in uncharted territory because all the predictions I have read suggest the situation could escalate over the next decade. Why? Because demand exceeds supply, harvests are bad, conventional cropland is being used to grow biofuels and a growing middle class in developing countries wants more milk and meat, so more grain is being grown for livestock feed (a cow has to eat six pounds of grain to put on a pound of weight).The biggest struggle for millers and plant bakers is to figure out how to pass on the price increases to the supermarkets. I hope the multiples will be realistic and accept that today’s consumer is informed and will pay up. They did when coffee went through the roof. Now it’s the turn of bread.
Ingredients giant Tate & Lyle (T&L) has opened an innovation centre in Lille, France.The €4m centre, opened on 19 September, will focus on developing health and nutrition products, with laboratories and testing faciities open to T&L’s customers.Bakery and food manufacturers are among those who will be able to use T&L’s pilot laboratory, allowing them to test out systems, products and processes on a small scale before upscaling to a plant operation.T&L’s research and development team will develop new ingredients in the field of “wellness and nutrition”, as well as exploring novel applications for its current range of functional food ingredients.Vice-president of sales and marketing EMEA, James Blunt, said the centre “will not only provide a huge boost to the development of our own value-added ingredient product range, but will also be extremely valuable to our customers as they refine and perfect their own products.”Our research shows that consumers in Europe are becoming more conscious of having a healthy, balanced diet. We are confident that this facility will be one of the principle hubs in the industry for the development of health and wellness ingredients across a range of applications.”On the same day, T&L revealed it will also open a new Polydextrose production line at its Koog plant in the Netherlands. The facility will be the first of its kind in Europe, with the capacity to manufacture a range of different soluble fibres, with applications in a range of food and drinks.T&L’s range includes texturants, sweeteners and dietary fibre brands.
Premier Foods has confirmed it has received an offer for its Le Pain Croustillant and Sofrapain businesses from French company Nutrixo, parent of Moul-Bie and Délifrance UK. Nutrixo is partly owned by farming co-operatives and partly by its own employees.The offer is “for a cash consideration of approximately £8m on a cash-free and debt-free basis”, and has been accepted in prin-ciple. Premier has “started con- sultations with employees and their representatives,” regarding the proposed deal.The success of Hovis’ relaunch has driven sales and market share and Premier expects sales in 2008 to be approximately 13% up on 2007. It also expects a 9% rise in group sales for the year to 31 December 2008, compared to the same 2007 period.
I have long since lost count of how many articles I’ve read, or presentations attended, over the past 24 months concerning skills levels within the baking industry. The message has always been fairly clear and consistent: the number of people who have core and practical baking knowledge are becoming few and far between and, overall, there is a serious lack of the basic craft skills that underpin all bakery production. Until this is universally addressed, the industry will be heading for Armageddon.Despite listening and agreeing and, some would say, being told until you are blue in the face sometimes it needs a similar effect to a bolt of lightning to cause you to wake up to reality.So what has changed? What has caught my attention, causing me to raise my head above the parapet?I believed that finding someone to manage a small craft bakery in Melton Mowbray wouldn’t present a problem. There would be lots of people, so I thought, with hands-on ability and great craft skills perhaps people with the skill levels of what used to be known as ’journeyman bakers’. How naïve am I?It was Ian Wheal, Ken Christopher, Fred Kidman et al from the National Bakery School who introduced me to the science and wonderment of baking. Their passionate enthusiasm for passing on their knowledge and skills was legendary especially to those at the receiving end! They certainly instilled into me an almost insatiable desire to learn more and sent me on a career path.It was in Germany that I discovered that Meister Bakers and Konditors were held with the same respect and social esteem as bank managers. Hmm, that was 30 years ago in Germany how does this sit in the Britain of today?Realistically, we are all now working for probably 50 hours for the return once obtained from 40. Challenging and saving costs has become mandatory. Production schedules and staffing levels are as lean as they’ve ever been. It’s so easy to become embroiled in the detail of today and tomorrow. As important as this may well be, let’s not lose sight of the fact that quality products are made by quality people and those people need the appropriate skills and knowledge.So what’s my conclusion? Although we do train our people, the industry as a whole obviously needs to do more. It needs to adopt a way of ensuring craft skills are intrinsically shared and retained, so as to protect the future well-being of the trade. And I keep looking for that golden nugget a bakery manager with the passion and skills to match our heritage.
Baker Sarah Gayton has issued a call to all small artisan bakers to stand up and be counted when the Olympic organisers come to awarding food contracts. She commis-sioned special Olympian Oatie mugs and sent them to David Cameron and Nick Clegg along with her biscuits to remind them of their commitment to a sustainable legacy.”The Olympic organisers have said they want small, British suppliers,” she said. “What the policy-makers are doing and saying are two different things. I want the organisers to put their money where their mouth is. We want little, rural artisan bakers to wake up to the opportunity of supplying the Olympics. Let’s wake up the Olympics to the fresh smell of proper British bread!”While major contracts are being awarded to large caterers, there will be opportunities for smaller suppliers. She said: “Let’s make this happen logistically it sounds difficult, but we can help drag the rural areas out of recession and provide jobs.”For details visit www.london2012.com/business and click ’Compete for’. Business Link is providing support to small businesses in the process or contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to get involved.
Facebook Young: Not passing another relief bill could be costlier in the long run Twitter CoronavirusIndianaLocalNews Twitter WhatsApp By Network Indiana – August 7, 2020 1 468 Pinterest (Photo supplied/U.S. Senator Todd Young) The price of doing nothing, and not passing another coronavirus relief bill, could be way more costly than the possible price tag of what has been proposed so far, said Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.). He said people who are fiscally conservative should be looking at those long-term costs.“Fiscally conservative people need to contemplate the cost of doing nothing,” said Young, by phone from DC. “What is the cost of the barber shop from down the road going out of business? Well, a number of barbers and the owner will be on public assistance. What is the cost of an entire manufacturing operation going out of business? Well, it’s long-term unemployment. It’s disability insurance. It’s food stamps.”One of the hang-ups in negotiations is the price of the bill, which is a problem for Young’s fellow senator and fellow Republican, Mike Braun.“I know this is a difficult thing for conservatives to ask themselves, but are you truly a conservative if you support voting no on something that will keep somebody off public assistance?” asked Young. “We don’t want to be penny wise and pound foolish. We need to make the necessary investments now, whatever the sticker price may seem to be.”Young prioritized what Republicans want in the bill. He said first is liability protections for businesses, so they can’t be sued easily if people get coronavirus by working or shopping there. He said making sure schools can make it safe for kids to go back to school is next.The third point is helping hardest-hit businesses. Young said his RESTART Act will help with that. He said half of the Senate have signed on as co-sponsors.“That will provide long-term working capital loans to help out our restaurants and our boutiques, manufacturing operations, these businesses that have to survive the pandemic because they are engines of our economy.”Young said the Act is part of some fierce negotiations in which both Ds and Rs are playing hardball.“I do believe that (House Speaker ) Nancy Pelosi has calculated that she will benefit from the chaos that might emerge if we don’t end up passing a bill,” he said, “then she’ll end up pushing through her Green New Deal, higher taxes, significantly higher spending.”Young said he believes the president’s threat to take executive action to push out some sort of relief action, is a way to put pressure on both sides.“He wants to apply pressure to both sides, that is the administration and the treasury secretary on one side and Nancy Pelosi on the other, to come to terms and find a deal, and I agree with the president.”Young said he believes whatever bill may come out of the negotiations would contain more “stimulus ” payments for people. Pinterest WhatsApp Google+ Previous articleMishawaka distributing e-learning devices to studentsNext articleHow to say no when you’re stressed out or frustrated with life Network Indiana Facebook Google+
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