== ABI head retires ==

Alan Hempton, managing director of Allied Bakeries Ireland (ABI), has retired after 45 years in the trade. He joined the business as a 16-year-old apprentice engineer in 1964 and went on to become managing director in 1987. In his time as MD, ABI began exporting to the Republic of Ireland in 1991 and to Great Britain in ’98. Hempton notes the success of Kingsmill as one of his career highlights. An announcement on the new MD is expected later this month.

== Fired-up Bells ==

Bells of Lazonby, which installed the UK’s first wood-fired rack oven, built by Acrivarn in 2001, says it is now in 24-hour use. "We installed it for environmental reasons, but the recent increase in fossil fuel costs means it has also proved significantly cheaper," says owner Michael Bell.

== Costa tops poll ==

Costa Coffee has been voted the best coffee chain by customers who rate its friendly staff and tidy stores more highly than its main rivals. Costa beat Caffè Nero into second place, with Starbucks and Coffee Republic in third and fourth respectively, in consultancy firm him!’s Coffee Chain Customer Tracking Programme, which asked customers to rate their visits on quality of drinks, choice of food and time spent queuing.

== Competition raisins ==

There are less than two months left to enter California Raisins’ innovation competition, which involves developing new products using California Raisins. The winning bakery business will get its hands on thousands of pounds worth of advertising for the product and free PR for the company. The closing date for entries is 31 March. For details, call 020 8741 8513 or email info@ukraisins.com.