Delighting customers throughout the day with top-notch products to meet their ever-changing needs is the mark of a quality retailer, and the three finalists in Bakery Retailer of the Year 2023 do just that.
Open to operators with a minimum of 10 sites, the category, sponsored by IFF, seeks excellence in bakery retailing. Judges considered the over-arching strategy, range management, the in-store environment, and customer experience as part of the process.
Here are the bakery retailers in line for a trophy at the Baking Industry Awards in 2023:
Overhauling its operations has paid off for Asda which looked to futureproof its in-store bakery business by removing scratch production and moving to a centralised manufacturing model, which included bake-off products. This, the retailer said, allows it to deliver on customer expectations of availability throughout the trading day, and ensure consistent quality and freshness.
Asda now operates a bakery business in nearly 600 stores across the UK, with a hot plate business producing fresh pancakes, cakes, and muffins, in nearly 400 locations.
This operation included Asda’s largest category reset of 2022, which saw it introduce 171 new lines and make quality improvements to a further 182 products. Notable additions included the Extra Special Seeded Sourdough Boule, Extra Special Hazelnut Croissants, and Rainbow Cookies.
A rebrand to ‘The Bakery at Asda’ accompanied the NPD along with new packaging to highlight key focus areas, such as the Extra Special croissants and bread.
The judges were impressed with Asda’s bakery team, both in-store and head office, who were keen to share their knowledge with the panel.
Birds Bakery is no stranger to the Bakery Retailer of the Year award, having won it in 2021. The family-run firm operates 61 sites across the East Midlands serving customers with baked goods, sweet treats, and savouries made from scratch recipes at its production site.
Over the past year the business has continued to rebuild from the pandemic, embracing its vision ‘to be a trusted brand delivering high quality fresh products daily’. As part of its strategy, Birds strives to maintain four pillars: quality, freshness, local, and family.
NPD has also been a focus as the bakery looks to evolve to deliver for its customers. Notable innovation includes the Baby Elephant’s Foot – a miniature version of its iconic cream cake – and a limited-edition salted caramel doughnut. Birds has also made a significant investment in bean to cup coffee machines to increase the quality of its hot drinks offer, as well as buying a new doughnut fryer for its production site and revamping some of its stores.
Passion shone through at every step of the judging, from the presentation by sales and marketing director Mike Holling, to the in-store staff who were “friendly and welcoming”.
Bakery represents a significant strategic opportunity for Lidl with the discounter believing the category has significantly contributed towards it becoming the UK’s sixth largest supermarket. It has also contributed towards Lidl’s loyal fanbase on social media with the #lidlbakery racking up more than 19m view on TikTok despite it not being active on the platform.
Lidl aims to harness this love to drive consideration and footfall with good availability, excellent quality, and low prices all playing a part. All stores bake a minimum of three times daily.
Lidl operates a nationwide bake-off operation with 40 permanently listed lines – including pastel de natas, pizza, topped focaccia, seeded sourdough, and croissants – alongside limited-edition and seasonal specials. Following an ‘incredible’ response to the Jubilee Muffin, it now rolls out seasonal muffin flavours for key moments in the year. The ‘bake in the bag’ concept is among notable recent innovation as it allowed Lidl to introduce meat into its in-store bakery offering for the first time in the form of Bacon & Cheese Turnovers and sausage rolls.
Stores were well stocked, clean and tidy, when visited by the judges, who were impressed with the quality and variety of goods on offer.
Thanks to our category sponsor
Baking Industry Awards finalists for 2023 revealed
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Bakery Retailer of the Year finalists named for 2023