Tony died peacefully on Saturday 17 January 2009, following a short battle with a brain tumour, first diagnosed in August 2008.
Born in Swanage on 7 May 1933, Tony married Barbara in 1964 and, together, they ran nine fabric shops from Newbury to Eastgate Street, Gloucester, having started the business with an overdraft of £750. But after a while, he sold them off one by one.
In 1971, the first Janes Pantry shop was opened as a sandwich bar in St Aldate’s Street, Gloucester, with the shop and subsequent business named after their youngest daughter. While the bakery business was being established, Tony also had a travel agency and a wine bar and restaurant named ’Brunel’s Wine Bar, also in the city of Gloucester. The eventual sale of this business to Bass enabled him to build another bakery in Hempsted, Gloucester and expand to eight shops throughout Gloucester. This expansion brought along another modern 10,000sq ft new bakery off Bristol Road, where his firm still resides today, employing more than 110 people. In addition to the nine bakery shops, nine vans and outside catering Tony also opened a Chocolate & Candy Shop in Cirencester.
He was a strong businessman and always worked on the theory that he needed to hire people better than him to do the work. In short, he was born to delegate. As he would say, "It’s always been hard work but we’ve always had a lot of laughs along the way."
With his strong business sense, he was always asked to attend conferences up and down Britain to speak about business matters and, for the last 10 years, he wrote a weekly column in British Baker. In 2007, he became the first non-American president of the Retail Confectioners International (RCI), founded in 1917. He had been a member for 11 years and, with Barbara, would visit America several times a year to attend seminars and visit Chocolate & Candy Shops ranging from small family-owned businesses with one store to large multi-million-dollar corporations. Tony said that being offered the presidency was a huge privilege. Once the members of the RCI learned about his illness, they flew an Amercian flag at half mast above Washington in his honour, before taking it down and sending it to Tony and Barbara, who were both deeply moved by the gesture.
During Tony’s life he was a member of Rotary, a councillor in Gloucester and a member and a president of the National Association of Master Bakers (NAMB). As well as Barbara, he leaves two daughters, Andrea and Jane, and his grandchildren.
Managing director, Janes Pantry
It truly was with regret that I received the telephone call on Saturday, 17 January to inform me that Tony had passed away. It wasn’t totally unexpected, but sad nevertheless.
I have known Tony and Barbara Phillips for some 23 years, from a member asking the NAMB questions for his bakery business to him becoming an active Western Region member, going on to be chairman of the finance committee (an appointed post) to being a director of the NAMB board until last year and, the ultimate accolade for him, national president in 2004/2005.
He was proud to be the first-ever English president of Retail Confectioners International, which often entailed him jetting off to preside over meetings in the US. For the NAMB he was an unpaid member of staff. So many members would ask for help with costings and general business queries and Tony was always able to offer advice and an invitation to visit his bakery and shops.
They say behind every successful man is a successful woman and this was never truer than with his devoted wife, Barbara. She has supported every venture and been lovingly at his side for some 44 years. Members - well most anyway! - loved reading his articles in British Baker, although occasionally we would have to rein him in a bit and remind him of ’political correctness’.
He made many friends in the NAMB and will be sadly missed by all Association members and staff alike.
Tony Phillips was a baking industry character and will be sadly missed by many for his excellent advice and his sense of humour; he was always prepared to help any baker who sought his counsel.
During 2004/2005, Tony held the position as the NAMB president; he was also a very active director of the board, which he sat on from its formation. Tony will be remembered for his warm personality and a gift for speaking in a way that was both understandable and profound.
Tony was one of life’s gentlemen and will be sadly missed by all at the Association. Our sincere condolences go to Barbara and family from all the board directors.
Mike A Holling