Sponsored by Lantmännen Unibake

Winner: Tesco

Supermarket giant Tesco has transformed its bakery offer to make it “the most compelling reason to shop in our stores”.

Activity has included a significant investment in new product development, introducing new lines across all tiers; new merchandising plans with local overlays; and a redesign to drive service and presentation.

“We set ourselves some pretty tough objectives as we needed to be certain ahead of committing to such a substantial investment,” says Tesco category director Gordon Gafa (pictured). “The positive impacts against stringent measures were overwhelming, so the programme was accelerated.”

Tesco has also introduced a new training program, with regional bakery coaches to deliver training directly to new starters, as well as refresh training for established bakers. Training packages are tailored for both bake off and scratch operations.

Judges were impressed with the clear strategy that considered all aspects of the current bakery operation. “Customer focused, and commercially astute, the concept stores delivered a relevant experience, creating a warm look and feel,” said one. “Innovative features for sampling were integrated into the selling space, with useful on-shelf descriptions and improved packaging to help customers choose and use products wisely.”

Finalist: Morrisons

As part of its ‘Fresh Look’ refit programme, Morrisons’ stores are benefiting from upgrades such as chilled counters for single-serve fresh cakes and making personalised Giant Cookies available in all its sites’ revamped production areas.

“Customers have told us they do not believe supermarkets make bakery products from scratch,” says Morrisons in-store bakery buying manager Andy Clarke (pictured). “So we have been opening up the bakery areas, so that customers can see in. We have also lowered the fixtures to make our bakers’ work, and their scratch baking, more visible.”

This year, Morrisons is introducing 22 ‘stores of excellence’ across the country, which will be training hubs for staff to see new concepts in action. The business has also introduced 22 coaches to give support on product quality, ways of working and training.

As part of ongoing waste reduction work, Morrisons now makes banana bread in 140 stores using overripe bananas from the produce department.

Price has also been an area of focus, with reduced prices on lines such as baps and cheesecake.

Finalist: Asda

Bakery has been key for Asda in the past year, with the retailer introducing 150 bakery production managers.

New CEO Sean Clarke has made fresh food a focus for the business, and Asda says it is “dedicated and determined to make our bakeries the shining jewel” in the fresh category.

“Continued investment into colleague hours and product, ensuring the customer is always at the heart of every decision made… remains our strategic vision for bakery retailing,” states the business.

Training has also been a focus, with new training materials and guides, plus support from bakery training managers to raise quality and consistency.

Investment has included the launch of Extra Special speciality breads. “We’ve worked closely with master bakers to create hand-crafted, artisanal quality breads to suit every taste and occasion,” says chilled & in-store bakery category planner Becky Illingworth (pictured).

After bakery staff noticed that promotions were not always clear with customers, it introduced simpler deals that have driven volume increases.