The tangled web of Finedon Mill whose tentacles have stretched from Shipton Mill to New Rathbones plant bakery and beyond turned another corner this week when Finedon ended up in court over unpaid levies (pg 5).
The company, which is in administration, is also believed to owe the taxman, odd bank and multiple creditor.
I expect many of you see it as a turn for the better. Indeed, the words “may justice prevail” probably sit seething on your lips. We shall have to wait for the outcome.
In the meantime, one supporter of Harvestime (2005) bakery, in terms of keeping the 400 or so jobs at the Walsall site, which is still trading in administration, has been Tesco.
But in two weeks time, Tesco’s bakery director Tony Reed departs for higher echelons at the retailer (pg 4). Many suppliers talk about wheeling and dealing with the supermarkets.
I have not been in that position and can only say that Tony Reed himself has always been utterly straightforward, called a spade a spade, worked hours most people would dread, but kept a distinct sense of the importance of family and the dedication this industry feels about bakery.
Last year, I asked him if my repeatedly voiced anger over below-cost bread, often
sold in supermarkets, irritated him. “No,” he said, “do keep banging the drum.”
And when bakers have lined up, sometimes in a queue, at the Baking Industry Awards to introduce themselves to him, it has never gone to his head. He started off pushing trolleys for Tesco and worked his way up.
On first meeting him five years ago, I was impressed by his manners and by his drive to really move things forwards. He has always bubbled over with initiatives – be it new products in breads and cakes or pioneering new bread baskets.
He has had huge pressures from both bosses and competitors, but, where possible, has supported forward-thinking companies.
One reason I support salt reduction targets in bread is because I totally agree with him that the government should once again be able to proclaim bread as healthy – as it did in the COMA report – before it withdrew that support due to salt levels.
Finally this week, Allied Mills is re-entering the customer market with new ideas and equipment.
It will have to work hard; the others have done well in its absence.