NEWS REVIEW OF THE YEAR
Published:  16 December, 2005

JULY

Sugar users and producers criticised EC plans to modernise the sugar subsidies regime,

published on June 22. The plans set out to lower EU prices to bring them in line with world prices. Tate & Lyle said the proposals would cut its profits by £85m from 2009 and British Sugar estimated a £40m cost. However, the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Association said reform did not go far enough as a quota system had been retained.

It was revealed cake company Inter Link was consolidating its operations by closing its Newton House Bakery in West Yorkshire in September, moving production to two Yorkshire Cottage Bakery sites. The site produced 100m small buns including fairy cakes.

Harrods announced it was shortlisting premium UK bakery companies to take part in a Truly British Promotion set to run in September. Products from Welsh cakes to artisanal bread were being considered.

A report from administrators KPMG on the break up of New Rathbones, supplied to British Baker, showed New Rathbones had been incurring losses of £150,000 a week in the first quarter of 2005. The report also revealed insurers were expected to pay out £4.8m for the company’s Carlisle site, destroyed by fire in February. The claim was expected to take several months to settle.

Tesco saw strong sales of low-GI bread and healthier options over the last year, bakery director Tony Reed revealed. Figures from the supermarket showed sales of lower-GI bread such as Granary loaves were up 34% year on year.

Asda reshuffled its bakery department, bringing in a new management hierarchy in a bid to cut costs and “re-energise the business”. Huw Edwards became the new bakery director. Asda said it wanted to improve in five key areas – simplicity, prices, cost-cutting, differentiation and improving store housekeeping.

Café operator BB’s Coffee & Muffins announced an expansion plan, which would double the size of its estate over the next two years, up from the current 95. MD Phil Abbott told British Baker expansion would be achieved by recruiting new franchisees.

RHM floated on the stock exchange with a share issue valuing the company at over £1 billion. Shares peaked at 303p on the first day of trading.

Finedon Mill called in administrators Baker Tully after selling its asset – the mill at Finedon – to Rank Hovis. Finedon Mill had been a 25% shareholder in New Rathbones and lost over £18m when it went into administration.

Cake company Inter Link announced it was closing its Crossfield Foods bakery later in the year. Production was to be moved to the more modern Shadsworth Bakery in Blackburn.

British Bakeries claimed it had achieved a world first – crust-free loaves. The soft-edged Invisible Crust product was available in 800g Best of Both and white versions. The new loaf had taken two years to develop, under the codename Project Curly – a reference to the myth that eating crusts makes hair curly.

Hilliers of Plymouth went into liquidation after fire gutted its factory in Devon. Hilliers, which had a £25m turnover, supplied own-label quiches, pies and other products to supermarkets including Asda and Morrisons.




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