T he relationship between supplier and retailer is vital in building success in the bakery category. With this in mind, Sainsbury’s, the sponsor of Bakery Supplier of the Year, is keen to encourage entrants who are able to demonstrate a successful partnership they have developed with a retail customer. Entrants do not have to supply Sainsbury’s to enter this award.

Judges will be looking for evidence of how companies have identified a gap in the market, achieved quality standards and distribution, and set about developing a strong relationship with their customers.

"Sainsbury’s is proud to sponsor the Baking Industry Awards’ Bakery Supplier of the Year for 2008," says category manager for bakery Nick Townend. "This year we are looking for suppliers to present an example of an excellent supplier-retailer partnership that has delivered a step change in the customer offer. Seeking out the best in the industry will create a strong platform from which to face the challenges ahead."

Entrants should be able to show investment in the customer offering through innovation, quality and/or value, which has fuelled growth. Companies that strive to achieve operational excellence, underpinned by a passion for quality and product safety, should enter this award. As should those who have raised standards of corporate responsibility.

"The bakery category has played an important role in the resurgence of Sainsbury’s in the past three years, with strong and consistent sales and market share growth," says Townend.

"Building strong partnerships with suppliers has been a key pillar in our success. In the past year we have seen this delivered through innovative new products such as artisan breads, as well as major changes in our corporate responsibility through our unique flour sourcing contract. This gives full farmer-to-bakery traceability."