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This award celebrates the bakery businesses that have pulled out all the stops for customers and clients.
Blaydon-based Beckleberry’s describes its journey as “riches to rags to revival”. The cake, patisserie and ice cream business first made its name selling to top-tier restaurants and hotels in the north of England, as well as providing cakes, brownies, patisserie and puds to the aviation sector. So, when lockdown struck, the company lost 97% of its business immediately.
The future might have looked bleak with the 65-strong team reduced to 10 and a £7m annual turnover in jeopardy, but the business gathered its available resources and bounced back. A threefold survival plan was hatched: keep the factory running, use up extensive stocks of raw ingredients sitting in the storehouse and utilise staff and vans that were sitting idle.
A 10-mile delivery zone was created around the factory and a treat box offer was created, featuring scones, brownies, tarts, cakes and flans, sold via the new website brand of afternoontreats.co.uk.
Plans to take the proposition nationwide followed regional success, and new high street listings at Café Rouge and Bella Italia have been won on the back of Beckleberry’s new bakery focus. The bakery and treat box functions have also led to a significant growth in “food minority” ranges such as vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.
The business can “suddenly see light at the end of the tunnel” after “staring over the abyss”. The judges rated Beckleberry’s achievements as “fantastic”, commenting that the company had “emerged from the past year stronger and more resilient than it was before”.
Finalist: Birds Bakery
In 2019, Derby-based Birds Bakery celebrated 100 years of trading. Then the pandemic struck.
From customer feedback it became clear that the company’s numerous elderly customers within its heartland of the East Midlands were having to shield. With many of them experiencing difficulty in securing delivery slots from supermarkets, Birds quickly established a ‘Home Project’ team to build a web-driven door-to-door service.
It took the team just four days to create a payment gateway. An ‘Essentials Pack’ was put together, consisting of bread, bread rolls, teacakes, cooked meat, pork pie, butter, eggs and sausage, with the later inclusion of flour. An early sign of success was the landing of 150 orders within 48 hours of the service going live.
Using customer feedback, packs were diversified and investment in the new revenue stream has seen the creation of the Birds by Post service. The judges praised Birds’ community values, noting that the offer was based on “what its customers needed”.
Finalist: J G Ross
A well-established craft baker in the north east of Scotland, when J G Ross was approached by Home Bargains to explore working together to increase its range of fresh local produce, the company realised that a close working relationship would be essential to cater for customers’ needs.
To that end, eight lines were trialled at a single store, merchandising was provided, and daily contact was established to monitor sales, waste and gain feedback. The reaction from the store and customers was “highly positive” and supply to additional stores was rolled out.
Now, with continued regular dialogue and changes being implemented with 24 to 96 hours, the selection of chilled pies, sandwiches, cakes, and morning goods produced at the Inverurie bakery are sold in 14 Home Bargains outlets in the region.
The judges were highly impressed with how the baker made the transition into the new retail channel look effortless, acknowledging that the success was based on “ongoing consultative dialogue”.
Baking Industry Awards 2021 winners revealed
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Baking Industry Awards 2021: Customer Focus Award