The retail picture is bleak. To put it bluntly, 2013 has started in a torrid style - awful.

Comet, Jessops, HMV and now Blockbuster have all gone, in a short space of time, and thousands face losing their jobs.

None, of course, are bakery retailers. But astute retailers know these larger stores act as a bellwether for the rest of the high street.

Frequently, when I speak to Mike Holling, the current chairman of the National Association of Master Bakers (NAMB), and soon to be its new executive director, the subject of the retail landscape is high on our list of priorities.

It is why British Baker met with Gill Brooks-Lonican and Christopher Freeman at the autumn British Society of Baking (BSB) conference to discuss the Use Your Loaf awareness campaign.

It is also the reason why British Baker approached Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow business secretary, for comment on the high street and how the opposition would be doing things differently. He was unavailable and instead we were offered quotes from Toby Perkins MP, the shadow small business minister.

I understand why political parties set the boundaries in such a way. For one business secretary to deal with everything would be untenable. However, I can’t help thinking they then make the following demarcations in their own heads. Big business equals good. Smalls equals… well, unimportant.

I’d love a political party to treat business holistically, to genuinely acknowledge the smaller companies out there and not pay the lip service they seem to at the moment.

Much has been said about the demise of HMV and I won’t repeat it here. But it seems the smaller, truly independent innovators are the ones to watch in the music sector. And the same can be said of the baking industry. It is those companies that constantly review their lines, review their retail footprint and, sometimes, their prices that are the winners in this competitive market. There is no “as is” any more.