Asda has made some significant changes to its bakery operations in recent years, including a move away from scratch bakery and revamping its product range.
British Baker caught up with Steve McCormick (SM), bought-in bread buying manager, and Chris Atkinson (CA), in-store bakery buying manager, to find out more about Asda’s strategy for bakery.
How would you sum up Asda’s strategy for bakery?
SM: Bakery is a hero category for Asda and we continue to invest across our product range to ensure our bakery business is a beacon of quality alongside other categories. Our aim is to deliver a bakery that customers will cross town for.
We recently relaunched and rebranded our bakery business as ‘The Bakery at Asda’ – this change saw over 350 new and improved products released into our stores.
Asda has made significant changes to the way its in-store bakeries operate in the past couple of years. What impact has this had?
CA: In September 2021 we removed the need for scratch production from our in-store bakeries and replaced it with a centralised bakery model across our core bread and morning goods ranges. Extensive customer research revealed our customers’ core expectations of us, and this model change allowed us to deliver on these expectations and future proof the category.
Simplifying our process and standardising across all our stores has allowed us to improve our availability, give consistent quality to our customers throughout our estate, and deliver a fresh product no matter where or what time our customers shop.
What are consumers looking for from in-store bakery and how is Asda delivering on this?
CA: Our customers tell us they have three expectations of our in-store bakery business – consistent quality, availability throughout the trading day, and freshness.
Over the past 12 months, we have benchmarked our entire bakery range against the market to ensure we have a range of products we can be proud of and that our customers will love. Through partnering with new and innovative suppliers and rolling out best-in-class training for our store colleagues, we are set up to deliver for our customers.
Tell us about some of the standout new bakery products from Asda. What makes them special?
SM: We introduced a new range of products in September 2022 with significant investment into quality and packaging and have so many products of which we are proud. One of our standout products is our Extra Special Seeded Sourdough Boule. It is handcrafted with a 22-year-old aged Yorkshire sourdough starter before being slowly fermented – this delivers a wonderful unique flavour and open texture.
On a sweeter note, we love our award-winning Extra Special Lemon Drizzle Cake too, which is made with Sicilian lemons, filled with a zesty lemon curd and finished with a lemon drizzle – this creates a flavoursome whole cake.
Asda recently revamped more than 200 products in its bakery range – what did this involve?
SM: The revamp of more than 200 Asda products across bakery involved significant investment into product and quality, as well as the new ‘The Bakery at Asda’ branding across bought-in and in-store bakery. An improved look and feel across the category and through point of sale was another important change as part of this activity.
As well as the improved products and new range, we also updated the Extra Special POS to align with our new look and feel, and introduced new sleek and modern packaging across mid-tier bought in-and in-store lines.
What are your key areas of focus for the year ahead?
CA: We will continue to deliver on our customer expectations of consistent quality, availability throughout the trading day and freshness. Alongside this we will continue to move at pace and innovate not only in exciting new growth areas but in how our bakeries of the future will look and feel over the coming years. We are evolving quickly as a business, which is opening new channels for our bakery category.