Winner Piero Scacco
Chairman, Montana Bakery,
Scacco worked as a patissier across the Continent, before coming to England and opening a business to develop part-baked baguettes.
Having grown it to a spectacular £55 million turnover, he sold it - and started all over again.
Montana Bakery produces ambient, chilled and frozen speciality breads and pizzas for clients including Marks & Spencer, British Airways and Caffè Nero. The company has 350 staff and a £16 million turnover. It recently took possession of a wood-fired pizza base oven, possibly the first of its kind in the UK.
The bakery is nut-free, but a new site will produce biscuits and biscotti next year.
The judges described Scacco as an icon and agreed that his passion and enthusiasm for baking, the industry and the people within it singled him out as the winner.
Finalist George Asher
Joint managing director
Ashers Bakery, Nairn, Scotland
Established in 1877, Ashers is still owned and managed by the great grandsons of its founder. The bakery has 12 shops across the Moray Firth area of the Highlands and Grampian. Some 25% of its business lies in wholesale, including local supermarkets, hotels and restaurants, as well as a gift range of cakes and biscuits.
With seven fully-qualified bakers among its 140 staff, the company is focused on training and has, says Asher, no problems recruiting staff.
The shops have recently been rebranded and Asher believes it is important to keep adapting to meet new consumer demands. Changing lifestyles are a driver for change, he says. "People are looking for healthier options, for example, so we’re producing a range of low-GI breads."
Finalist Robin Jones
Joint managing director
The Village Bakery (Coedpoeth),
"I come from a family of craft bakers and have a real commitment and passion for my job," says Jones. "I think it’s genetic!"
The Village Bakery is owned and run by the Jones family and operates from a purpose-built bakery just outside Wrexham. The company has an £8.5 million annual turnover and employs 185 people.
Jones says that, over the past 18 months, his remit has been to build a solid foundation for the company’s future prosperity. An automated, gluten-free factory has become operational, enabling, he says, the marriage of traditional bakery expertise with state-of-the-art equipment.
He adds that the company has maintained its reputation for quality products in one of Europe’s most advanced craft bakeries, while staying as environmentally friendly as possible.