November

Hovis denies promotion overload as it gains share

Hovis has not been over-promoting its product, insisted Hovis' marketing boss, as the brand closes in on rivals Warburtons.
Premier Foods' heavy price promotion of Hovis, alongside Allied Bakeries' Kingsmill, has seen the number two and three brands respectively steal a march on market leader Warburtons.
According to recent data (TNS 4 w/e 3 October), volumes of pre-packed bread were down by 2.5% in total, with Hovis bucking the trend, up 19.9%. Kingsmill rose 7.6%, while Warburtons fell by 7.9%. Own-label suffered a big drop, down 24%.
"I genuinely don't think we are over-promoting and by that I mean offering such value that it is somehow harming the brand," Hovis marketing director Jon Goldstone told British Baker. "We are offering good value to consumers in a way that is consistent with the overall brand values."
Hovis has now closed the gap on market share with Warburtons to 4.5%, having seen it grow to 10% a year ago. "We don't have any posters on the wall saying we want to overtake them," said Goldstone. "We want to grow steadily, responsibly and sustainably. We're close to being back to the high point of 2006, around the 28% [market share] mark, and that will be a huge achievement that we will celebrate and move on from."
As the economy recovers, Goldstone expects the level of promotions to recede. He said: "In the current economic environment, the value we're offering is appreciated. As we enter the next economic cycle there is an opportunity for the category as a whole to deal less."
He said the brand's success was down to "confidence in market-leading quality", a strong marketing drive on brand perception and developing more reasons to trial, such as the Wholemeal Challenge.
The next challenge, he said, would be to return the wrapped bread category to the volume growth it briefly enjoyed in 2008. "We want a healthy market with steady long-term growth," he said.
l See full interview in the next issue of British Baker

In Short

Warburtons revamp
Warburtons has been in talks with brand agencies ahead of an identity overhaul, according to marketingmagazine.co.uk. The brand is to refresh its identity and packaging, and will be the first major revamp in more than 10 years, it reported.

Ginsters uses technology to bring bakery to classroom

Students studying the Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (MPD) can now gain access to Ginsters' Callington Bakery without leaving their classroom, thanks to online video conferencing technology.
Using free Skype communication software, pupils are able to talk directly to staff at Ginsters and look around the bakery as part of course projects and assignments. The new Diploma in MPD targets students aged between 14 and 19 and mixes practical and theoretical work on food manufacturing and product development, including at least 10 days' work experience.
"At Ginsters, we have worked with schools and colleges in Plymouth and Cornwall for many years. But we noticed that visits were decreasing year-on-year. It seems that new challenges associated with taking a class of young people on a visit were responsible for this reduction. These included transport, health and safety, financial and time-tabling issues," said Chris Schaffer, bakery training and education co-ordinator at Ginsters. "We didn't want this to affect our ability to help schools, especially with the new work-relevant requirements of the Diploma in MPD, so we decided to use Skype. Now, thanks to this technology, we can give students access to our facilities and the expertise of our staff."
Schaffer, who has signed up to become an employer champion for the Diploma in MPD, has also developed an educational website to support Ginsters' activity.

Bakery chains line up to bag Ainsleys shops

There has been an "encouraging show of interest" in Ainsleys of Leeds, after the business was forced to call in the adminis-trators earlier this month, with Greggs and Cooplands (Doncaster) among the interested parties.
Joint administrator Joe McLean, a partner at Grant Thornton in Leeds, told British Baker the business was "running as normal". He said it had been an encouraging week, and that staff in Ainsleys' bakery and shops had taken the news with great resilience, despite hundreds of jobs being at risk. "We are in discussions with some parties... it's still early, but we are hopeful we might find a buyer."
Greggs said it would be "very interested" in looking at a number of Ainsleys shops. "We could offer a future to somewhere in the region of one in three Ainsleys shops, if the administrators would consider those coming over to Greggs," said chief executive Ken McMeikan. "Our sadness at the moment is to see other another baker in trouble. We want to see the bakery industry thriving."
Chris Peck, chairman of Cooplands, confirmed that the 75-strong bakery chain was also interested in Ainsleys, but said that it was "early days" in terms of a deal. "Ainsleys has a good name and, geographically, it is within our logistical capabilities, so it would be relatively painless to absorb the company."
The 29-shop firm went into administration on Friday 6 November, after earlier attempts to find a buyer failed. McLean said Ainsleys had been trading in difficult circumstances for some time, with declining retail sales and increased market competition.
Ainsleys employs 263 full- and part-time staff, and around 30 temporary workers, across its shops and bakery in Sheepscar, Leeds, and in its van sales operation. General manager James Ainsley said that, along with the Ainsley family and company directors, he wished to acknowledge the hard work and loyalty of the staff, "particularly through the recent challenging times".

Halloween puts spirit into Sainsbury's bakery sales

Sainsbury's Halloween bakery products helped push sales in the division up 50% as the retailer announced increased sales for the 28 weeks to 3 October 2009.
"Bakery has had a fantastic start to the year and the new products we have launched in the Basics range, such as the muffins, have played a big part in this," commented Nick Townend, Sainsbury's category manager for bakery. "We also benefited from a great selection of products over the Halloween period, which led to a 50% growth in sales."
Townend said that bakery is a key area for Sainsbury's, which it is supporting through its bakery apprentice programme. "That is something which is delivering real results for our customers and colleagues alike."
The supermarket saw total sales rise by 3.7% to £11,158m. Sainsbury's Basics range features 650 products, including a variety of cakes, biscuits, mor-ning goods and bread.

Bakery under investigation over E.coli

A bakery in Felling, Gateshead has closed voluntarily following an outbreak of E.coli in the area.
Myers Bakery is currently being investigated as the possible source of the infection, which has so far been confirmed in nine adults, with six other possible cases in the Gateshead area, as British Baker went to press. All seven confirmed cases had purchased cooked meats or sandwiches from the shop before it closed on Wednesday 11 November.
Dr Kirsty Foster of the Health Protection Agency said: "Myers Bakery's owner is co-operating fully with the investigation and the shop remains closed while this continues."

Subway supplier Evron to spend £400k on R&D

Bakery manufacturer Evron Foods, which supplies Subway's breads, is to invest £400k in research and development, to include the investigation of a new sweet muffin-style range.
The investment has been supported by an offer of over £140,000 from Invest NI, with funding from the European Regional Development Programme.
The firm, which manufactures a range of chilled, frozen and ambient breads and pastries for the retail, foodservice, wholesale and food processing sectors, now hopes to increase its current turnover of approximately £20m by 50% within the next three years. It has also appointed a new commercial manager and key account manager as part of its plan to drive the busi-ness forward.
"With the support of Invest NI, we now hope to achieve additional efficiencies by further strengthening our management team, while increasing our foothold in the retail bakery market around the UK and Ireland with our new sweet muffin range," said Morris Evans, managing director, Evron Foods.
He said alongside the constant challenge of meeting and exceeding customer expectations, the firm has also faced increasing pressure on its overheads. "Flour, butter and electricity costs have all risen dramatically in recent times, but this further motivates us to be innovative in how we do things," he added.

Greggs reveals interest in First Quench sites

Patrick McGuigan
Greggs has expressed interest in buying up to 120 First Quench off-licences from administrators, reflecting a wider strategy of cherry-picking sites from struggling retail chains in its bid to open over 600 new stores.
The retailer is running the rule over 10% of First Quench's 1,200 shops, which comprise Threshers and Wine Rack stores, after the chain went into administration last month. Greggs is also in negotiations to buy around 10 Ainsleys' shops from administrators (see pg 5).
"We're looking for more than 600 shops, so when companies go into administration, we are quick to make contact. We've looked at many companies and have put extra people into our property team to do this," Greggs' chief executive Ken McMeikan told British Baker. "When a chain like Threshers goes into administration there is often overlap with existing Greggs stores, but if there are parts of its portfolio that are a good fit, we'll be straight on the phone."
McMeikan emphasised the social benefits of such deals: "We can potentially offer employees from those companies in administration a secure future within Greggs, which is a financially strong and growing business."
Greggs plans to open 50-60 new stores next year and around 70 stores per year from 2011. Target regions include the south west, north west, north Wales and north-east Scotland. Indus-trial parks and sites at travel hubs, such as airports, are also a focus.
"I haven't ruled out acquisitions, if the right company came along," added McMeikan. "In terms of opening shops in the south west, we first need to open a new bakery in that region. If there were an existing business that could provide both shops and a bakery in the area, we'd certainly be very interested. It would mean we wouldn't have to build a brand new bakery."
According to Paul Moody, retail director at property consultancy Colliers CRE, Greggs will face tough competition for prime retail sites, despite the downturn.
"Greggs is a mature chain so it will have a refined and specific list of properties it is looking for," he said. "There is strong demand for good locations on the high street and sites at transport hubs from players such as Subway, EAT, and Pret, so Greggs won't find it easy."

Warburtons and Hovis go head-to-head on all-British bread

Both Hovis and Warburtons have announced their intentions to use 100% British wheat in loaves from early 2010, with Hovis stealing a march on its rival by switching the entire range to UK-grown wheat.

While Warburtons said it would launch two “all-British loaves” from March 2010, made using wheat sourced from its network of 320 farmers across the UK, Hovis moved to use 100% British wheat across all its loaves, with the change expected in January.

Hovis has been working on its plan to use 100% British wheat for the past five years, in a multi-million pound investment to ensure that the British wheat used provides the same quality as imported wheat.

Although red wheat is known for its great bread baking quality, historically it has primarily been grown in Canada. However, there are now 600 British farmers growing red wheat for Hovis, commented the firm.

The all-British Hovis launch will be supported by a fully integrated above and below the line marketing campaign from January 2010.

“Hovis is the only major bread brand to be doing this across the range, making the brand thoroughly British,” said Hovis marketing director Jon Goldstone.

Meanwhile, Warburtons’ range will continue to be manufactured using a blend of British and Canadian wheat “as this guarantees the exacting quality and consistency standards Warburtons demands for its consumers,” commented chairman Jonathan Warburton.

The two new Warburtons loaves - a soft white and a soft brown - have been developed in conjunction with two of its British wheat suppliers Tom Tupper and Ian Waller, and are made using a blend of Hereward and Solstice wheat.

“We’ve wanted to bake a British loaf for a long time and by working closely with our farmers we have been able to achieve this and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate farming at its best,” said Warburton.

Warburtons and Hovis go head-to-head on all-British bread

Both Hovis and Warburtons have announced their intentions to use 100% British wheat in loaves from early 2010, with Hovis stealing a march on its rival by switching the entire range to UK-grown wheat.

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