David Garman, senior independent director at John Menzies and former chief executive of Allied Bakeries, gave invaluable strategy advice at the British Society of Baking’s (BSB’s) autumn conference.

Garman, who has over 27 years of business experience, spoke about how to grow a business. Here British Baker reports on the highlights:

-         Develop a growth strategy to increase the value of your business. If you don’t make a strategy, nothing will change.

-         Bury your natural scepticism – get someone to do your strategy work who can challenge what’s already in place.

-         You must start in the future – make an aim, something that will make you and your entire workforce want to get out of bed in the morning.

-         Base your business on a big idea – be ambitious, be inspirational. Warburtons did it and it’s all over their branding, their website – it worked for them and it can work for you.

-         Do some serious customer research – of your competitors, your marketplace and your own staff. Use someone independent who isn’t afraid to tell you the absolute truth.

-         Choose your priorities – pick three and really get behind those. Soreen was one of the best-known brands in Britain, but consumers only bought their products on average once every three months. Now they’re riding high because they focused on what they do best.

-         Use numbers to give your customers a compelling reason to buy your products.

-         Leadership and quality of leadership is all-important. Don’t blame those below you if things go wrong, make a change from the top.