Greggs has once again topped the BB75 table, with the highest number of bakery retail outlets, keeping Subway at bay in the number two spot. With 84 more outlets than this time last year, at the last count Greggs had 1,571 shops, with Subway on 1,424 after adding only four net new outlets in the past year.

Ken McMeikan, chief executive of Greggs was presented the winner’s trophy at British Baker’s inaugural BB75 Lunch, held at Terence Conran’s The Boundary Hotel in Shoreditch, London on 29 February.

Top executives from many of the companies featured in the BB75 table attended the event, which saw the exclusive launch of the new BB75 Special Report (published with this issue). The Lunch featured presentations from McMeikan on his business, and issues facing high street bakers, as well as a talk on bakery/coffee shops of the future from Doctor Oliver Blank, head of sales and marketing at German shopfitting and design specialist Aichinger.

McMeikan spoke of issues negatively affecting the high street, such as the recession, the growth of online shopping and free-parking at out-of-town shopping centres. He illustrated changes on the high street with data from IGD (Grocery Retail Structure 2011 vs 2010), which showed the rise in supermarket multiples as well as convenience and symbol stores, in contrast to a fall of 0.3% in the store numbers of specialist bakers.

He then gave an overview of how Greggs had achieved success, from moving into the breakfast market, increasing its investment in promotions and price and widening its appeal through healthy and nutritional products, to investing in new shops, refits and its bakeries. In terms of opportunities for the baking industry to grow together, he suggested: collective buying power, shared customer insight, national marketing of the bakery industry, and working together to tackle community issues.

During Aichinger’s talk, Blank told guests that trends should not be regarded individually, as these gave a limited perception of the future. He noted that a shop’s design needed to create ’lust’ to enter, stay, buy and indulge. This could be done by "staging" special products, and ensuring shops effectively communicate the message bakers wanted to get across to consumers. "If you want them to enter your shop and spend their money there, they need to see good reasons," he said, adding that one of the success factors in the big chains is service reliability.

Key statistics from the BB75 report

l The top 10 in the table, which includes Costa (3rd); Pret A Manger (9th); and Sayers the Bakers (10th), remains the same as last year, with no movement in positions.
l The table features five new entrants: Parsons Bakery; Fresh Baked (Auntie Anne’s); The Cornish Oggy Oggy Pasty Company; Dorringtons; and Ditsch.
l The top three in the table Greggs, Subway and Costa account for almost half the shops on the entire list, with 4,347 between them.
l Losses from the table include Coombs Hampshires and Woodhead the Baker, however there have been plenty of success stories, with star performers including EAT and Patisserie Valerie, with 17 new stores apiece.
l Successes have been achieved by offering an upmarket mix of coffee and premium baked goods, as well as moving into new channels.

BB75 is the annual authori-tative tracker of companies that sell baked products as the primary element of their food offering in a retail, food-to-go or eat-in format, benchmarked by the number of outlets operated.

BB75 Lunch attendees’ comments:

Mike Holling, retail operations director, Birds of Derby: "The BB75 Report is invaluable information for the industry and there have been excellent ideas to come away with and take back to your business today."

Ken McMeikan, chief executive, Greggs: "It is hugely important, because it brings the industry together and provides us with an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day challenges that all of us face and share some experiences, thoughts and views about the wider baking industry."

Tim Cuttress, managing director, Forfars Bakery and secretary of the British Confectioners’ Association:
"I’ve always been a great believer in networking. It’s interesting how you have condensed the event into a couple of short presentations in the middle of the day, and I’ve met some very interesting people."