The lure of lower-cost Eastern Europe beckons. Lightbody of Hamilton has exclusively revealed to British Baker that it intends to build a £2 million factory in the Czech Republic to supply its European growth. It is also launching a joint venture in Shanghai, China.

These are heady days for the Scottish company that, until the mid-’90s, was a major owner of retail shops before completely changing course. It sold up the shops and plunged into manufacture of beautifully produced celebration cakes to the major multiples.

The business has gone from strength to strength in a daring decade that would make the founder of the firm John Lightbody, great grandfather of current managing director Martin, very proud indeed. We can all share in the joy of an entrepreneurial family that makes it to the big time with steady growth and solid investment. Lightbody opened a second Scottish factory two years ago and the next target it America, with a joint venture in the offing.

Still on Scottish success stories, Mathiesons, which went through lean times a few years ago, has turned round and moved on - to a brand new £4m production bakery. Now the company aims to share its expertise with others through the Scottish Family Business Association. Family businesses helping other family businesses is a win-win situation. It is networking at its best.

Meanwhile, I hope you will do some networking, if you know any good craft celebration cake makers and decorators. Yes, this week we launch the 2006 Baking Industry Awards with Celebration Cake Maker of the Year, sponsored by Renshaw!

There are so many talented artists out there and we particularly welcome first-time entrants or those who have not succeeded before. Last year’s awards produced new faces and new winners - as well as those who have tried before but not been a finalist in the past - so please make sure they enter!

Finally this week, do have a look at our second preview of Food & Bake. We also round up the other food shows taking place at the NEC at the same time, from March 19-22, all of which feature bakery exhibitors. All that and the British Society of Baking Golden Jubilee Conference to boot. My advice? Wear comfortable shoes!