Monty’s Bakehouse

Godstone, Surrey

Monty’s Bakehouse is a supplier of premium, ’bake-in-pack’ snacks, including wraps, subs, slices and muffins, mainly to airlines. The firm was started in 2004 and now turns over £4.5m, employing 16 staff. To provide the best possible service to major client Air Canada and in what the judges described as "exemplifying customer service" Monty’s has set up a consolidation warehouse in Frankfurt. From here, it not only delivers its own products to Air Canada at 20 airports around Europe, but also receives in and distributes product from all the airline’s other suppliers. "We turned a straightforward supply arrangement into a deeper, long-term client relationship," explains managing director Matt Crane. "We went ’open book’ on delivery, quoting delivered and undelivered product prices, and, because we understand their business so well, Air Canada trusted us to take over the delivery side of things. Two-and-a-half years later we’re now providing the service to other customers."

The judges noted that Monty’s had directly benefited its customers passing on cost savings and reducing operational complexity, while creating a long-term solution with the company at its heart. They said Monty’s had "gone the extra mile", investing in skilled staff and IT provision to ensure the project’s success. "We’ve grown around 20-30% year-on-year over the past four years," says Crane. "That’s down to our philosophy of ’innovation, quality and over-service’. We go out of our way to find out what our clients need, and then find a way to deliver it."

Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakery

Lostock, Bolton, Lancashire

"Providing good customer service is the key to maximising sales, productivity and long-term customer loyalty," asserts Sandra Ogden, head of retail operations at Greenhalgh’s. "We encourage staff across the firm to work together to meet customers’ needs."

With Greenhalgh’s for 20 years, Ogden oversees all retail operations in the 60-shop firm, from staffing issues, health & safety to marketing. She says the intensive staff training is geared to building and maintaining excellent customer loyalty. For example, a 10-point checklist from greeting, to helping pack the customer’s purchases ensures each shop is a friendly place that the customer will revisit.

An e-commerce site, launched in July, allows customers to order celebration cakes and buffets online. Ogden adds: "This shows we are a forward-thinking firm, dedicated to our customers. Also we are more than happy to open late, so they can discuss a wedding cake at a time to suit them."

The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys

Witney, Oxfordshire

Canadian-born Gary Frank, head boy at Fabulous Bakin’ Boys (FBB), set up the Delicious Donut Co in 1989, relaunching as FBB with a range of muffins, flapjacks, cakes and cookies in 1990. The new firm’s first major customer was Sainsbury’s, swiftly followed by the other multiples.

The company now employs 150 people and is forecast to turn over £22m in the coming year. "About 18 months ago we started our Baking Gold project to discover what customers really wanted," he says. "And that was better-quality ingredients, better packaging and more in terms of innovation, such as healthier, but still tasty snacks."

Following big investments in NPD and R&D, FBB launched its first "customer-demanded" product in January fruit & oat slices which have already gained more listings than other FBB products. Says Frank: "In terms of customer service you cannot do much more than ask them what they want and then go all-out to give it to them!"