Alan Clarke

Chief executive, Scottish Bakers

At the recent Scottish Bakers conference in Peebles, Peter Ford, director of the Premium Roll Company, delivered an excellent presentation entitled The Definition of Insanity, based on Albert Einstein’s definition of "doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results." Ford highlighted some of the key challenges that he faced when he decided to return to the baking industry to set up a new bakery: growth that was quicker than anticipated; the importance of sticking to budgets; increased difficulty in turning a profit; customer expectations; increased competition; and changes in legislation and employment law.

This meant he was forced to re-adjust how he ran his business. He made the required changes and has gone from strength to strength, growing the business significantly over the last few years.

Ford’s presentation got me thinking about how we, as a trade association, are changing to meet the needs of our members. We have introduced more member benefits, including a fully insured employment law and health and safety advice service, and a free review of utility bills, to ensure our members are not paying excessively. We have also strengthened our training arm and are now providing bakery qualifications, supervisory and management development programmes for bakers throughout the UK.

Moreover, this year, we are introducing the Scottish Baker of the Year competition, giving customers across Scotland the opportunity to vote for their favourite products and favourite bakers and tell us why they like them so much. Promoting our industry and encouraging our members to shout about what they do best will help make sure we don’t go insane.