The focus of this award is not about size of operation or number of shops, but about product excellence, enterprise and ideas, says UK miller Rank Hovis, which is proud to once again sponsor The Craft Business Award in 2009.

Judges will be looking for craft bakery businesses that are moving with the times to meet new challenges and consumer trends. Entrants do not have to be a customer of Rank Hovis to enter the award.

"We will be very interested to see what the business response is to the current climate and what companies are doing differently as a result," says Lawrence Watson, head of sales and marketing at Rank Hovis.

"Bakery is a solid category and, as a staple, will always be part of people’s shopping habits, but companies cannot ignore the pressure on shoppers’ pockets."

The Craft Business Award is open to all types of craft bakeries. Entrants might specialise in one area ? artisan breads, pies or cakes, for example - or could produce a wide range of different products. The key to success is proving that you have a good grasp of consumer trends and have used this to boost your business, as well as producing consistently great quality products.

"It’s important to demonstrate an understanding of your customers’ purchasing habits and what they are doing differently. Consumers are eating out less, but are still looking for value-for-money treats. How are bakers benefiting from this opportunity?" says Watson.

"Entrants must be both passionate and knowledgeable, as well as having an unerring attention to detail. We want to see what makes them tick, what their business thrives on and what they are especially proud of."

This is an opportunity for craft bakers to showcase their business and highlight to the judges and the baking industry that they really are at the top of their game.

Whether it is a niche business or traditional bakery, this award is all about craft and quality in today’s challenging trading environment.

Rank Hovis looks forward to receiving your entries and wishes all entrants the best of luck. So don’t delay, phone for an entry form straight away.


=== Tim Jones, joint MD of last year’s winner The Village Bakery (Coedpoeth), Wrexham ===

"We didn’t expect to win because the competition was so tough, so it was a surprise when our name was read out. Winning the award has been really good for the staff because it is a tribute to all the hard work they do. It’s great to get out there and be recognised for what we do. It has put a spring in everyone’s step. We got a lot of local press coverage for winning the award and lots of positive PR. It certainly hasn’t done us any harm in terms of attracting new business and raising our profile in the local area."