With 2020 fast approaching, we cast our eye over some of the bakery stories that have hit the headlines over the past 12 months.
- Greggs launched a vegan-friendly version of its sausage roll to selected stores, in time for Veganuary. Described as having 96 layers of light and crisp puff pastry and a bespoke Quorn filling, it was later rolled out across Greggs’ portfolio.
- Patisserie Valerie owner Patisserie Holdings entered administration after failing to secure financing. The business, which narrowly avoided collapse in 2018 following a cash injection, called in KPMG as administrator. Patisserie Holdings had been in talks with banks but was unable to renew its facilities.
- Caffè Nero bought a majority stake in the Coffee#1 chain. Under the deal, the brewery and hospitality company SA Brain would retain a 30% share of Coffee#1, with Caffè Nero holding close to 70% ownership.
- Samworth Brothers revealed it was planning to close Cornwall-based desserts and cakes manufacturer Kensey Foods by the end of July and began formal consultation with the 650 staff at the 11-acre site in Launceston. Kensey Foods made desserts including custard tarts, cream tarts, fruit pies, crumbles and sponge puddings for retailers.
- A consultation that included a proposal of making full ingredient listing mandatory on food prepared in shops was launched by the government. It followed the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died in 2016 after eating a baguette containing sesame bought at Pret A Manger. The so-called Natasha’s Law was introduced by the government during the summer.
- Patisserie Holdings businesses Patisserie Valerie and Philpotts were sold in separate deals. Dublin-based private equity firm Causeway Capital acquired the former, taking on 96 stores, while West Midlands-based wholesaler and distributor AF Blakemore acquired all 21 Philpotts food-to-go stores across the UK.
- It was revealed that bread volumes at Allied Bakeries would be hit in the year ahead following price discussions with customers. Parent company Associated British Foods said work was continuing to reduce operating losses at the Kingsmill and Allinson’s owner, which were described as “unacceptable” the previous year.
- Pret A Manger food safety boss Tim Smith urged for change in the way allergen-related deaths and serious incidents were reported. The chair of Pret’s Food Advisory panel and previously chief executive of the Food Standards Agency, he revealed there had been a delay of nearly nine months between the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and Pret being notified.
- Renshaw owner Real Good Food sold Chantilly Patisserie to its management team. The deal was the fourth disposal by RGF since it sold Garrett Ingredients the previous April. It had also sold Haydens Bakery and R&W Scott.
- Greggs reported that its full-year sales broke the £1bn barrier for the first time in 2018, with the business announcing a 7.2% hike in turnover. The growth followed the firm increasing its estate by 99 stores – opening 149 (including 62 franchises) and closing 50 – giving it 1,953 shops at the end of 2018.
- Carrs Foods rebranded as St Pierre Groupe and secured a £6.7m investment. It also appointed former Tyrrells chief executive as non-executive chairman. The investment is being used to fund expansion in digital channels and new product development.
- Butcher Jon Thorner’s vegan pie was crowned Supreme Champion at the 11th annual British Pie Awards. The Curried Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Vegan Pie beat more than 900 other pies from 176 producers.
- Roberts Bakery secured nationwide c-store listing for first time. Six of Roberts’ bakery products were available in 2, 200 stores and forecourts through wholesaler Booker.
- Football legend Harry Redknapp launched an online business selling jam roly polys after partnering with Heidi Bakery. Redknapp had previously craved a jam roly poly during his TV appearance in I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.Homelessness charity Hope Housing received 20% of the profits.
The Real Bread Campaign announced the appointment of a diverse line-up of 21 ambassadors comprising 12 women and nine men from places including the UK, Mexico, Malaysia and Romania. Real Bread Week 2019 also marked the start of a new initiative encouraging bakers (whether professional, semi-pro microbakers, amateurs, or novices) to take to social media and post #WeAreRealBread photos of themselves making real bread.