Winner BB’s Coffee & Muffins

Isleworth, Middlesex

BB’s 180 food-focused franchised cafés are found predominantly in shopping centres from "Plymouth to Perth". Each site adds extra ingredients to the company’s signature muffin mix, typically baking around 14 flavours a day.

Last year, BB’s introduced a segmented range of muffins, following research which showed its franchisees required more flexibility to meet regional demands, says BB’s retail and brands director Michele Young. New products include the luxury Muffin Royale for the high end of the market and low-fat and children’s ranges. Corn Savoury Muffins were also introduced, to meet the increasing demand at breakfast and tea times for a ’healthier’ product.

The judges were impressed with the different methods used to research customer requirements, and the way in which the findings were used to adapt BB’s product range.

Finalist The London Bread & Cake Company

Edmonton, London

"We’re customer-focused from the top down," says managing director David Hall. "It’s the reason we’re still here after 126 years and some of our competitors aren’t."

The London Bread & Cake Company serves around 1,000 customers, mainly contract caterers, with a 350-strong product range, including bread rolls, Continental and speciality breads and cakes. It also buys in items requested by customers.

Hall says all the company’s 100 employees, from sales staff to van drivers, go and meet their customers and everyone is prepared to "go the extra mile for them". A staff training programme is under way, with office manager Claudette Campbell already achieving an NVQ in customer service.

Regular feedback comes via the six-monthly customer questionnaire and a three-month independent audit was recently undertaken.

Finalist Monty’s Bakehouse

South Godstone, Surrey

Four-year-old Monty’s produces quality, bake-in-pack pastries, which have consistent bake times, leading, says director Harry Crane, to foolproof preparation and a mess-free serve.

Over the past 20 months, the company has cemented its relationship with Air Canada to ensure the range it provides meets the client’s needs precisely.

The product team has worked airside with crew to understand the processes by which passengers are served and the problems associated with airline catering. This has even extended to developing recyclable and collapsible packaging to help reduce weight and therefore fuel costs.

Client and consumer feedback is positive, says Crane. Monty’s uses information gleaned from the regular emails from passengers to develop new flavours and advise Air Canada on product rotation.