18 January, 2008
Hayley Brown asks five bakery retailers in last week's British Baker Top 50 chart to comment on their businesses' fortunes
Page 13 
Michele Young
retail and brands director, BB's Coffee and Muffins, No.10We currently have 177 stores throughout the UK and Ireland. This represents an increase on last year as we have opened about 20 new stores in the last 12 months.The main problems we faced in 2007 centred around the industry cost increases and the challenge to ensure that we maintain our value-for-money retail price positioning, which has been key to our success.Our store design is currently under review and will evolve accordingly, as BB's is very much a place where our customers want to feel relaxed, and we expect to open a further 20-25 stores in 2008 and aim to reach 200 stores next year.The menu is constantly being reviewed to ensure that we meet customer taste preferences and demands. We have some exciting new products in the pipeline for 2008, which suit our customers' needs.Simon Hargravescommercial director, Pret A Manger, No. 9Overall 2007 was an excellent year, but commodity price pressures - particularly wheat price increases - have dampened our success. We now have 175 shops, an increaseof 21.We expect to have 206 UK shops by the end of 2008. We have an ongoing refurbishment programme to keep our shops fresh and relevant. We also continue to model our shops to suit their local area and customers. For instance, shops in retail areas and shops in worker areas.The menu will evolve, as always, as we focus on taste, provenance and quality.Peter Williamsbakery director, Simmons Bakers, No. 33We have 29 bakery shops at the moment and plan to open another by March.It will be our aim to open one to two a year. We also have a growing wholesale business, which accounts for about 25% of bakery sales. With health trends growing, speciality breads such as the GI loaf are seeing good growth. But doughnuts are still by far our biggest-selling product. We make anywhere between 4-5,000 jam and ring doughnuts a day.The biggest challenge in 2007 was, by far, rising ingredients and fuel costs. We were forced to put a price increase on some of our products in October, on top of our annual increase in April.Kevin Grahamregional director for Europe, Israel and South Africa, Subway, No. 2Subway has doubled its number of stores in the UK and Ireland in the last two years and now has over 1,100 stores. It has plans to open another 1,000 stores in the UK and Ireland by 2010. The level of growth we've experienced in the UK and Ireland is a fantastic achievement. It reflects the entrepreneurial spirit of the development agents and franchisees, together with the power of the Subway brand and the strength of its systems, policies and procedures.The chain's popularity among consumers has seen sales of subs continue to rise - one of the key product advantages is that subs are made up in front of the customer, exactly the way they want them. n----=== Next year's Top 50? ===John ChalmersMD, Chalmers Bakery, No. 51We've had many highlights this year, particularly the Scotch Pie World Cup. On the downside, we've had the usual staffing problems, but we're lucky because we're able to employ people from the EU. We now have 17 shops, the same as last year, but one is being refurbished at the moment. We want to make the bakery more modern and attractive to customers.We're not actively looking for a new site, but if one pops up in the correct location then we'll take it.

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