New Allied chief reveals plans to ring in changes
09 June, 2006
Allied Bakeries has started a major operational review of its business, and is to relaunch its three major brands over the next year. Speaking exclusively to British Baker, new baking and milling group CEO Brian Robinson said Allied Bakeries was “a business that needs a lot of attention” and that he was working on “getting the fundamentals right”.
He said he has appointed Mark Fairweather, formerly MD of Allied Mills, as new MD for Allied Bakeries Great Britain. Fairweather now has a “huge job” reviewing Allied Bakeries’ manufacturing operations, said Robinson. This will cover all 10 bakeries on the mainland, their equipment, product range and efficiency, as well as logistics, supply chain and customer service.He said: “It is about getting a much more efficient service. It’s a financial offset between supply chain cost and efficiency versus cost and efficiency of manufacture and getting that equation right. Is there a better way of doing things?”Robinson said he plans to give individual sites in the UK greater autonomy and produce a greater range at each one to reduce trunking costs and improve service. Allied Bakeries is also planing a “radical” relaunch of its three major brands, Kingsmill, Allinson and Burgen, in the next year.Robinson said: “There is a need for a radical change; there is no point tweaking the edges. We need to drive the ‘wow factor’. We have three strong brands which need to do the job; we need to have them refocused.“We need to find meaning and purpose for the Kingsmill brand – the reason why you would want to purchase it. Allinson is tradition with heritage and Burgen has a stronghealth position.” Robinson said Allied is also focusing on category management, particularly on own-label, which accounts for 30% of the bakery’s £450m annual turnover. He said: “Own label will be very important to our future. We are just stepping ourselves up to the mark on that.” Allied is also ramping up research and development activity, and plans to launch a number of innovative products, including loaves with health benefits.The first new product is a Crustless Kingsmill loaf “the only real crustless”, which went on trial in Iceland stores last month priced £1.10. It is to be rolled out to supermarkets around the UK by July, in white, and wholegrain and white variants.The loaf is baked in an oversized tin, at two of Allied’s bakeries, before its crusts are mechanically sliced off. This compares to Hovis’ Invisible Crust loaves, which are baked using microwave technology.Robinson said: “This has taken a huge amount of work; it’s true crustless. It initially will have an appeal to school kids who won’t eat their crusts.”Robinson was previously chief executive of Associated British Foods’ George Weston bakery division, Allied’s sister company in Australia.