Lesley Foottit reports from the 127th annual Craft Bakers’ Association’s annual conference, which saw plenty of industry insight and advice on making it in retail in the current economic climate.

Clare Rayner: 10 steps to make it in retail

Leading retail expert Rayner founded Shop Local Campaign, which champions the success and sustainability of smaller independent retailers and suppliers to retail.
1 Goal and mission
Get a clear idea of your goal with the business you are starting and what you want to achieve with it.
2 Positioning
Make sure you know how your business compares against competitors including price; product; presentation; and service.
3 Ideal customer
Having a clear idea of your target audience is vital in order to best tailor your offer.
4 Range planning
The product is a major part of the company’s positioning so it is important to categorise you range and not cannabalise it with similar offerings.
5 Price and positioning
Again, it is important to know your market and choose your prices and position in the market carefully to suit your audience.
6 Channel and location
This is all about how your customers shop from in-store to online ordering and those who identify with companies’ social media pages. Rayner says a multi-channel customer is worth 130% of a single-channel customer.
7 Customer engagement
Four aspects to consider:
Attraction: knowing your ideal customer and tailoring the price, product, promotion and place for them
Visibility: availability, product information, staff competency
Rentention: keep your promises, stay consistent in your offer, make sure you tell your customers about offers
Referrals: inspire customer trust in your brand to encourage word of mouth recommendations
8 Supply chain
Carefully select suppliers and manage your relationship with them. Define your criteria early on from your ethics of business to your values, reputation and flexibility.
9 Planning and controlling
This spans cash flow, sales and margin data. It is vital to keep your eye on the details.
10 Back office
Again, essential for efficiency of business. Keep on top of HR, legal, finance and IT issues to ensure the smooth running of your business.

Stephen Spicer: advice on allergen regulation

Spicer, head of regulatory affairs at Campden BRI, advised delegates of the best ways to prepare for new allergen regulation coming in this December. It will apply to all food served in establishments including pre-packed, which it is estimated will cost an average of £3,260 per business. Spicer warned of ‘capacity issues’ with booking in for menu and labelling changes and advised business owners to book jobs at the printers early.

Other changes coming into force include changing the minimum font size to 3mm as well as highlighting any allergens in ingredients. Fourteen allergens must be clearly labelled, though business are free to decide how they should be flagged on packaging. Spicer recommended bolding up the font of the allergen in question in lower case to make reading accessible. Guidance on this can be sought from the British Retail Consortium.

The fortification of bread and flour is still required and forticants now need labelling. DEFRA is conducting research into this.

Elsewhere, the list of mandatory nutrition information has changed. The fibre content is no longer required, while sodium content is, as is the KJ and KCal content.

“Allergens are the only piece of mandatory information and must be declared,” said Spicer. “The ‘how’ is flexible and information can be put across via booklets, menus or staff knowledge.

Andre Sarafilovic: maintaining innovation, sales and quality in baking

Sarafilovic, director of Stephens Bakery in Dunfermline, was on hand to help delegates keep their businesses relevant for changig consumser preferences and tastes as trends move on. He advises business owners to focus on innovation and marketing to ensure success.

Stephens Bakery operates at a turnover of £10m with 185 staff across 14 retail branches and more than 100 convenience store units, six snack delivery vans, a catering and buffet service and 40 wholesale customers.

Rolls, the Scottish bakery favourite, account for 38% of the business while savoury pastries take 34%, together accounting for the bulk of sales. Confectionary sales come in at 17%.

“We are passionate about quality and value for money,” said Sarafilovic. “Continuous investment in business is necessary and you must embrace new technology. It is all about strengthening the brand - we have spent a lot on branding this year.”

The company commissions daily quality reports with regular mystery shopper visits with a spotlight on standards.

Sarafilovic champions new product development for increasing market share as well as lengthening trading hours to suit current trends where people no longer fit the traditional 9am to 5pm shopper profile. The bakery has also introduced made-to-order filled rolls and sandwiches to stand out from competitors. Around 10% of orders are done online since adding that option to encourage more business.

Business advice: protect your profits, discipline and grievance procedures and auto pension enrolment

Louise Camilleri, key account manager at Lodge Services, discussed security specialists, loss prevention, security of personnel, screening and vetting, audit assessment and how to maximise a return on your investments in business.

Since the resession hit, Lodge has noticed a sharp increase in staff theft. The company offers affected businesses options including mystery shopper visits to assess staff behaviour. Camilleri suggests that while alarm systems can be expensive, sometimes a simple ‘CCTV’ warning sign can be deterrent enough to burglaries.

Meanwhile, Mike Hornsby, partner at Gisby Harrison Solicitors, advised delegates on how best to discipline staff and sort out grievances without crossing any boundaries or breaking any laws. Business owners must ensure that their procedures and actions are in accordance with the law.

Pension law is changing and Robert McGregor, managing director at Beaufort Corporate Consulting, was on hand to help delegates through the fine print. For businesses employing people, there are new laws to learn regarding pensions and owners will have new duties to help them save for retirement. Employees are required to save a minimum 5% of their salary, although there is an option to opt out.

New Craft Bakers’ Association president

The 127th annual conference saw David Smart, managing director of craft bakery chain Greenhalgh’s, installed at president for the next two years, replacing Anthony Kindred of Kindred Bakery in Herne Hill, south London.

Smart will be the first president to hold the position for two years as the post is normally just for one.
And President Elect is Janet Carr, managing director of Warings Bakery, which retails across Berkshire and Hampshire.