Ladies and gentlemen! Roll-up, roll-up for the 2010 Baking Industry Awards, which scour the country in search of the baking industry’s high fliers and success stories. This issue we welcome two new sponsors: Bakels, sponsoring Speciality Bread Product of the Year; and Dawn Foods, sponsoring In-Store Bakery of the Year (see pgs 18-19). As you might have already guessed, the awards, now in their 23rd year, will take the circus as its theme this year, with the presentation evening on 8 September guaranteed to provide all the excitement associated with Big Top entertainment.

Recognising the hard work and passion of the people and companies that make the British baking industry one of the most exciting and innovative in the world, the awards are open to firms of all sizes from one-shop retailers to the largest suppliers. There is a category to suit everybody, but how do you go about putting together a winning entry?

The starting point should be thinking about what are you most proud of. For example, how are you tackling issues that affect your business? Do you have a brilliant business plan? Have you done any valuable market research? Do you have a unique process of evaluating new products and arriving at your range? Are you able to convey a sense of your whole business working as a team?

Terri Petherbridge of Glastonbury-based bakery Burns the Bread, who won last year’s Customer Focus Award, sponsored by CSM, says entry forms should focus on areas where companies are better than their competitors and highlight long-term initiatives that have had tangible results. "Just go for it. It’s definitely a confidence booster for the business," she says. "It was good for our customers to know that we had been recognised by a national award and it made the staff feel good to know their hard work had paid off."

David McClymont of Lightbody Celebration Cakes, who won the 2009 Celebration Cake Maker of the Year award, sponsored by Renshawnapier, says that entrants should try to stand out from the crowd and really impress the judges. "My entry featured a ’flapper’ girl, modelled in Mexican paste, with individually threaded beads. The judges said it showed attention to detail and, hopefully, my technical skill came through."

Succinct and memorable

Filling out an entry form for the Baking Industry Awards does not need to take up huge amounts of time. The judges will be sifting through stacks of entries, so something succinct and memorable will stand you in good stead. You do not have to list every business achievement selectively compiled press clippings or mentions of other awards won is more likely to impress than listing your HACCP or BRC accreditations, for example. Providing good-quality photos to give judges a visual feel of your products is also a good idea, as is highlighting specific business achievements with tangible benefits from the past year.

On the other hand, a common mistake is not giving enough detail. Do not assume the judges know about your business or your achievements and make sure you tailor the entry to the category you’re entering.

Rich Products’ Gail Lindsay, who won Bakery Supplier of the Year 2009, sponsored by Sainsbury’s, says that she treated entering the awards as a mini business review, consulting with various section heads and collating key data. "It was a great exercise in terms of taking stock of what we had achieved over the past year. We still use our submission as a business review document to give business partners an overview of our recent progress," she says. "We made sure to keep the entry form succinct, so that it answered the questions and used specific examples from our business. We also included photos."

Entering the Baking Industry Awards is a great boost for business, says Paddy Cronin of United Central Bakeries, whose Genius Gluten-Free Loaf won last’s year’s Innovation Award, sponsored by Asda. "Winning the award did bring in new business and raised our profile in the industry. You could say it gave us more kudos," he says.

Each award will be judged according to the requirements of that category. Some will see shortlisted candidates visited by the judges. Others will call upon finalists to give a presentation on why they believe they deserve the award. Each panel contains representatives from the sponsoring company, plus an independent expert judge, selected in agreement with British Baker. A British Baker staff member then joins each of the final judging panels to help decide the finalists.

Finalists will attend the awards ceremony free of charge, where there will be a drinks reception, three-course meal and dancing. Other attractions and the celebrity presenter will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Rules of the game

A company may enter more than one category, BUT different company representatives must enter each of the chosen categories. No one person can enter more than one category. The winner of each of the categories will receive a trophy, while finalists receive a certificate.

Remember your business’ reputation alone will not be enough to get you shortlisted. Past Baking Industry Awards have seen major industry figures and outstanding businesses and products failing to make the cut, based on their submitted applications. So it is crucial not to overlook the importance of this first step to being selected as a finalist.

If you need advice on how to put together a winning entry, why not speak to other entrants or past winners? First and foremost, putting together an application should be a fun and valuable process in finding out what exactly it is about your business that makes it special. We wish you the best of luck!

Do’s and don’ts

l Entrants sometimes think they have to be a customer of the category sponsor to enter, which is not true. Others, who are customers of the sponsor, will load their application with information about what they have done for the sponsoring company in the past year, which will in no way advance your cause
l Just attaching corporate brochures to the application is a sure-fire way of boring the judges, who are more likely to be impressed by a personalised application
l Don’t think your business is too small or at too early a stage for you to enter. These Awards are open to all bakers. You’ve got to be in it to win it!
l Make sure the entry form is clear and legible and that you answer all the questions fully
l Paint a clear picture of your business, tell us how you adapt to changes, and highlight your unique selling points
l Describe plans and objectives you have for the future. Judges want to see that you are forward-thinking
l Don’t be afraid to shout about your success be proud of what you have achieved
l Get members of staff involved in entering don’t do it all yourself. That way it’s a team effort and employees will learn a good deal more about your business during the entry process
l If you are selected for a judging visit, gather any training material or other information. This is a great way to showcase your success. Or you may need to send in your products
l If you don’t succeed, don’t be disheartened. Look at the process as a positive way of evaluating the business. And don’t forget, try again!

2010 Baking Industry Awards - Enter now!

l Baker of the Year, sponsored by Vandemoortelel Confectioner of the Year, sponsored by Rich Productsl Bakery Food Manufacturer of the Year, sponsored by ADM Millingl Bakery Supplier of the Year, sponsored by Sainsbury’sl Celebration Cake Maker of the Year, sponsored by renshawnapierl The Innovation Award, sponsored by Asdal The Craft Business Award, sponsored by Rank Hovisl The Customer Focus Award, sponsored by CSM (United Kingdom)l Speciality Bread Product of the Year, sponsored by Bakelsl In-Store Bakery of the Year, sponsored by Dawn FoodsHOW TO ENTER: Call: Helen Law on 01293 846587Email: