Bako, a top name in bakery wholesale with five branches nationwide, is branching out into supplying foodservice.

In the past the company has told me it would not stray from what it does best – supplying bakers. But I believe the decision is right. Bakery, particularly the craft sector, has contracted in recent years with consolidations and closures on the one hand and concessions to supermarkets on the other.

If you ask the vital question, ‘where do they go from here?’ I think absolutely the right answer is foodservice. Preserving profits is vital to the service they provide bakers. And I don’t believe that service will suffer. I think in time it will get even better with more opportunity to invest in people and technology, alongside transport.

Many congratulations this week go to Coughlans of Croydon and also to Marks & Spencer, among others, for their triumphs at the ‘Sammies’, which give industry recognition to Britain’s top sandwich makers and suppliers.

Apart from the fact that one is an exceedingly good craft baker and the other is a multiple retailer you might think that winning is all they have in common. But you’d be wrong. Pioneering is what they have in common, and a commitment to quality. The level of NPD in both is astounding. One gets the impression that those responsible for fillings, quality and variety see every day as a challenge. What can we invent today? What will keep existing customers interested and attract new ones? And let’s not forget the good breads they use as carriers. Coughlans makes and fills its own, as well as providing a fantastic range of cakes, which actually draw people to Croydon. Marks & Spencer will soon be buying its sandwich bread from Fine Lady Bakery – an accolade for Joe Street and the team.

Meanwhile, Phillip Brown, founder of Philpotts sandwich chain, likes to give people ‘a tangible hug’ when they go into his shops with charm, choice and opulence. That’s a new angle on service!

In this issue, we also pay tribute to a much loved baker, Anne Heffernan, who spent a lot of her life helping others.

Finally, do enter the Baking Industry Awards! There is a category for almost everyone and we welcome first time entrants. Closing date is June 16. Knowing how busy you all are we have simplified the forms. We look forward to hearing from you!