Improve’s skills plan takes shape

first_img“Everybody should stop moaning about bakery skills shortages and learn to love the new skills framework.” This is not what Improve’s CEO Jack Matthews said of the new ’employer-led’ qualifications, but he might have done in a more private moment than speaking at last week’s launch of the new framework.”It’s about engendering the recognition that it’s a demand-led agenda – led by the employers.” That, he did say.Speaking to British Baker at the sector skills council’s conference, held at Improve’s base at York University, Matthews said the qualifications have been streamlined to eliminate thorny issues such as duplication of learning. It also offers a modular ’plug and play’ skills framework, applicable across the whole food and drink industry, with specific bakery modules.Meanwhile, momentum is building to plug the gap in training provision, with the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for bakery, which should culminate on 30 October at Bakers’ Hall, London, where the issue is set to dominate an Improve-led bakery training conference. This would see the baking industry come up to speed with the meat and fish industries, which already have centres of excellence.Matthews said a new centre could be up and running within a year if the idea were embraced by the baking industry. “We can get that development process under way, assessed and accredited, and a centre set up within a year – if there is the will to do it,” he said.national skills academyThe National Skills Academy is the training division of Improve, funded by The Learning & Skills Council. The existing centres of excellence are independent providers, with an emphasis on engaging with employers, he added.”We have been working with a number of bakery companies – Warburtons to name but one – and they are beginning to recognise what skills can actually do for their organisation, for shareholders and their performance in the marketplace, as well as for the individual. The baking industry is going to continue to change in terms of plant size and complexity. On the craft bakery side, we know what issues they have with finding good bakery apprenticeships, and locations for bakery apprenticeships can actually be delivered.”The flexibility of the qualifications will allow bakery employers to plan using their people better, he believes. “If you want to move on from a Level 2 to a Level 3, you can add whatever units you want, because the credits are all equalised and accessible. When the provider sees the demand starting to build for these tailored qualifications, they will recognise that’s where they have to go.”Baking industry figures gave their backing to the framework at the event. British Bakels MD Paul Morrow said that firms are now realising that engaging skills more fully into their business structure adds value to the bottom line. “If we look at the commonality of food manufacture, rather than at the very small sub-sectors of baking, craft baking or confectionery, then there are many themes in common – from health and safety, hygiene, through to process operators and management supervision.”Whether it’s craft baking, bread or confectionery, or whether it’s craft fish processing or craft butchery, there’s still a scope for all those craft skills within the framework. We’re trying to build those foundation skills that are common to the whole food industry as well as the very narrow but important sector craft skills – in our case bakery.”British Bakels is recruiting senior level food scientists and training them in bakery craft skills. “It will take us a couple of years but it’s not impossible. The true craft skills are only a small part of the common skill set that our company employees will require.”He added that common complaints against embracing training – including fears that upskilled employees would jump ship to competitors, meaning someone else reaps the fruit of the investment, or a lack of time and/or money – are misplaced.”If you haven’t got the time to train then you’re not going to be in business long-term. If you train your people, they’ll be motivated to stay – losing them to competitors is not a convincing reason not to train,” he said.This argument was echoed by Sylvia Halkerston, HR director of Macphie, which decimated the rampant staff turnover at the Glasgow Oakwood Foods Factory it acquired in 2000; this fell from 90% to less than 1% through a structured approach to training involving NVQs. “There’s a consensus today that there’s a direct correlation between training and development and the success of a business. Training produces a competent, confident workforce that enables us to compete globally,” she said.But will the baking industry embrace this new framework or is there still scepticism? “The baking industry is much more enlightened than some of them give themselves credit for! They will have to make an investment – which some in the industry have run from in the past – but they’re beginning to see that training gives a clear return on their investment.”wait and see stanceThere was however a ’wait and see’ outlook on the mix and match flexibility of the qualifications from Arthur Rayer of the SAMB. “When you have hundreds of units, I’m not sure how you hang a qualification on a generic mix. I think you have to drive the industry a wee bit,” he said.But he welcomed the retention of the bakery element. “Although it’s a framework for food manufacturing, within it, there are still bakery roots. We were worried that bakery would be swamped by a generic qualification, but it’s not. We’re also happy with having the standards, but not necessarily attached to VQs. That means we can offer alternative qualifications where people want them.”The development of a genera- lised food manufacturing qualification to replace all the old qualifications in no way detracts from the role of bakers, insists Paul Wilkinson, chairman of Improve. “Clearly, bakers need to know how to bake, whether craft or plant. But it is a simplified, more clearly focused set of qualifications. And through the National Skills Academy it should be easier to access training.”Matthews added: “The critical element is that bakery employers feel something has been done that reflects their needs.” nlast_img read more

Competition hots up in Scotch pie contest

first_imgBakers and butchers across Britain are gearing up for this year’s World Scotch Pie Championships, taking place at Lauder College, Dunfermline, on 7 November.Entry forms have been sent to the 135 members of The Scotch Pie Club, with a record entry expected.Last year’s Scotch Pie Champion, Keith Stuart, has seen his overall sales rise by 10% since his debut win last November.Stuart, bakery director at Stuart’s of Buckhaven, which has 19 shops in Fife, said: “We were absolutely delighted to win the event for the last year and our overall sales have seen an increase of 10% in the period since November 2007. Part of that rise has been due to the marketing of our unique Irn-Bru sausages, which took off with our regulars and also with the media from all over Britain.”The baker is likely to stick to the same recipe that won last time round. He added: “It’s been a brilliant year for the company, but I know competition will be fierce.”Previous winners that are also expected to enter include: Lewis Maclean of Macleans Highland Bakery, Forres; Paul Boyle of Boghall Butchers, Bathgate; Thomas Auld & Sons of Greenock; Robert Cowan of the Bon Bon Cake Shop, Airdrie; and Alan Devlin of Sugar and Spice, Auchterarder.A Scotch pie consists of a thin pastry shell filled originally with minced mutton mixed with rusks, seasoning and water. It is topped with a thin pastry lid.Organiser Alan Stuart added: “The Scotch pie is one of Scotland’s best-loved food icons.”last_img read more

Esquires Coffee Houses expands on UK franchise

first_imgEsquires Coffee Houses UK has announced plans to grow its franchise by another eight stores in the UK, by summer 2009.The company, now in its tenth year of trading, currently has 25 outlets in the UK. It opened the first of its planned eight outlets in Letchworth Garden City, Herfordshire a couple of weeks ago and hopes to have another open by the end of February.Peter Kirton, managing director of Esquires Coffee Houses UK, said he had identified a number of locations that he believed would fit with Esquires’ offering. “We’ve had an overwhelming level of interest in the Esquires Coffee Houses franchise operation over the past year,” said Kirton. “Though we are not able to disclose exact locations at this point, I am pleased to say that the new stores will be well spread across the country.”Kirton sees the business as direct competition with the likes of Caffè Nero and Coffee Republic, but said the business hasn’t got the same presence yet, due to its lack of London sites.The coffee chain offers a range of sandwiches, paninis, sweet pastries, cakes and muffins, some of which are baked-off on-site. It also sells only Fairtrade certified teas, coffees and hot chocolate.In terms of changes to the food offering in future, Kirton said Esquires was considering offering more baked-off products in its outlets. “We’re continually reviewing our offering and also considering healthier options,” he added.The chain’s Canadian parent company has also just announced agreements to open a combined total of 585 stores across China, India, the Middle East and Egypt, as part of the firm’s plans to further expand its internatio- nal franchises.last_img read more

Baker heads up top job at Maple Leaf UK

first_imgCanada-based Maple Leaf Foods has announced the appointment of Peter Baker as the new head of its UK operations, Maple Leaf Bakery UK. He will take over the role of MD, effective 6 April, after Maple Leaf’s parent firm Canada Bread announced the departure of former MD Peter Maycock last month.Baker, based at the company’s Park Royal office in London, has over 30 years’ experience in baking, including chief executive of La Fornaia from 2003-2007, a company bought by Maple Leaf in late 2007. Prior to that, he was MD of British Bakeries.last_img read more

Honeyrose scoops up Greenwich Cakes assets

first_imgHoneyrose Bakery has bought all the unencumbered assets and equipment of London baker Greenwich Cakes, following the latter’s voluntary liquidation.London-based organic handbaker Honeyrose acquired bakery production, packing and office equipment. MD Lise Madsen said it could offer great value to existing Greenwich Cakes customers, who, in most cases and for a similar price, could trade up to a handmade, organic cake.She said the purchase gave the company flexibility to have dedicated equipment for specific areas, such as gluten-free production. “We needed to expand our production capacity quickly,” said Madsen. “Customer demand is really picking up, both for our Honeyrose brand and our private-label business. This fits into our growth strategy, which began last year when we moved into a bespoke, green bakery with 400% additional capacity.”The organic handbaker has also been awarded another two gold awards at the 2009 Great Taste Awards, which brings its tally up to 14 won over the years, five of which were gold. Organic Pecan Maple Syrup Flapjack and Organic Chocolate Gateau are the two most recent winners.Honeyrose Bakery handbakes organic cakes, cookies, muffins and biscotti, including a line of wheat-, gluten- and dairy-free items, which are sold in shops including Waitrose, Fresh & Wild, Planet Organic, Harrods and Selfridges.last_img read more

Sleeping giant awakes

first_imgBakery giant Delice de France’s MD Ian Toal appears remarkably upbeat on the morning that we meet especially given the fact that Delice’s parent group, Aryzta, announced downbeat trading results that were more a Déplaisir de France the same day. Performance in the UK and Ireland was cited as a drag on the group’s fortunes, with operating conditions described as especially tough, contributing to a 10% drop in revenue in its European division in the six months to 31 January.On the face of it, things looked grim. Since Toal took charge of the biggest player in the bakery foodservice market two years ago, Delice has been walloped by the recessionary collapse of the UK’s hospitality sector. The exchange rate ramped up the cost of bringing in goods from Europe. And the country’s biggest wholesale food-service operator Brakes launched a specialist bakery division 12 months ago, to go head-to-head with Delice and wholesale rival 3663. At the same time, Delice was undergoing a tough period of restructuring, following the merger of its former parent company IAWS with Swiss baking giant Hiestand in 2007.”When you see the future results being published, you’ll see that all the reshaping we’ve done will start to pay dividends,” says an unfazed Toal. Delice is coming off the ropes with a strategy to mark its 25th anniversary this year, which Toal claims will give it a clear advantage in the market: it is no longer simply a distributor of products, like its rivals, but a large-scale manufacturer too. A massive plant claimed to be the most state-of-the-art French and speciality bread plant in Europe was built in Dublin 18 months ago at a cost of E200m (£177m), adding to the group’s 22 substantial baking sites around the world. The La Brea branded in-store bakery breads are now made there on its highly automated bulk fermentation line.”What I would say is [the UK] is seeing good trading figures now,” he says. “We’re through the worst of our own experiences. We’ve been through a whole learning curve. It’s not that easy to go from being a wholesaler to a manufacturer. We’ve invested heavily in equipment and plant, but also in skills, working hard to get some of the best bakers around. But we’ve had to go out and get a lot more customers because the market is still quiet. It has been a real journey, but we’ve come out of it really quite excited; we’re doing ok, but more importantly, we can see a vision for the future.”Since taking charge, Toal has aligned the business more clearly around trade channels and types of outlet, explaining that what works in a school wouldn’t work in a coffee shop or hotel. “It would have been easy for me to bring people in from the outside and create a senior management team,” he notes. “My key directors have all been with the business for many years. To change it with them has been more rewarding than to have changed it for them.”Even so, the threat from Brakes was significant. As an ex-Brakes man himself, how much did he fear them stealing Delice’s business? “When they first launched, we were going through that transition time and everybody looked at them and why wouldn’t they? because they were the new thing,” he recalls. “We are partly responsible for that. We’ve built this massive bakery and merged with a half-a-billion-euro business, and all of a sudden, most of what we sell is our own. That capacity [in the market] hasn’t gone away. What it meant was that people like Brakes got a lot of what we used to sell before we started making it ourselves.”But we’ve got 2,000 more outlets today than when Brakes launched La Boulangerie. We didn’t lose a major contract the whole time. Yes, a few little bits around the edges. But, if I’m honest, it made us speed up our transformation programme. We knew that we would be marginalised one day if we didn’t invest and control our own destiny. You cannot create products for people as easily if you’re going through three or four different third parties. If you’re a manufacturer, you should never be beaten by a wholesaler, because you have the manufacturing margin.”In fact, he defiantly states that Delice’s catalogue has around three times more products. “Everybody is pressured to get rid of range and reduce it down to a few SKUs. I’ve gone the other way, which some might think is madness.”Now published every six months rather than 12, to adapt more quickly to the market, it is more user-friendly with a picture against every listing; this change alone led to a double-digit uplift in sales of products that previously didn’t have an image. Delice also held prices, with French bread having been on a 10% free offer for over a year.It has focused on the multiple uses of products and features tips throughout the catalogue. For example, one demi-baguette was developed to split into four for sharing. “We didn’t think anything new could be done with a demi-baguette, and then someone comes up with a great idea that has multi-uses. How can you take a breakfast croissant and use it as a sandwich carrier for lunch? How can you take an arctic flatbread and turn it into a salad bowl? I have people whose job it is to sit and think of 10 different ways to use that product.”Proactive stanceThis is all part of his drive to be more forward-looking rather than simply respond to trends after they’ve happened. Was this part of the job pitch two years ago? “I saw what I believed to be a sleeping giant that had not necessarily moved with the times a fantastic speciality business that had started to lose its way,” he recalls. “I had a vision of getting us into a sharp shape in three to five years. The recession made us do that in two.”The positive outlook goes some way to explaining the sunny demeanour. “We might have been a bit dumb, fat and happy at one point, but we’ve become faster, better, leaner, without trimming the range back. We’ve come out of the end of a huge learning curve much, much healthier and much happier.” Delice de France at a glance l Delice de France was born out of a coffee shop by Frenchman Philippe Signolet, who had a vision in 1985 of bringing continental goods into the UK. It is the UK bakery foodservice arm of Aryzta – a Swiss-based business born in 2007 from the merger of two bakery giants: IAWS and Hiestand Group. Delice’s sister company Cuisine de France, which covers the retail channel and features in some 4,000 convenience stores plus the forecourt network, also comes under Toal’s stewardshipl Delice has plants in Dublin and Kettering; Aryzta’s Viennoiserie is made in Germany, Switzerland and Poland; and the largest US cookie brand Otis Spunkmeyer is also part of the group while the La Brea brand has plants statesidel It covers education, healthcare, pubs, hotels, restaurants and cafes – around 20,000 different outlets per yearl Distribution is direct on an ’order today for delivery tomorrow’ basis, six days a weekl It has 22 retail outlets run by SSP and ISS, in enclosed environments like train stations, with no plans for the high streetlast_img read more

Enter now!

first_imgGet your entries in for the National Association of Master Bakers’ Bakery Competitions to be held at Bakers’ Fair Spring.Taking place at Newbury Racecourse on Sunday 10 April, the new event for 2011 will play host to competitions available to all bakers consisting of seven classes for bakers and three classes held jointly with the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders. The bakers’ classes include: a celebration cake inspired by the Royal Wedding; cupcakes; hot cross buns; crusty brown rolls; an 800g farmhouse loaf; a handcrafted 400g white loaf; and traditional sponge sandwich cake.The joint categories will pit bakers against butchers in a contest to make the best hot crust pork pie, cold-eat meat pasties and six-inch sausage rolls.Entry forms are with this issue or see: read more

Maple Leaf to invest £11.5m in bagel growth

first_imgNew York Bakery Co has secured an £11.5m investment package from parent company Maple Leaf Bakery UK to expand the business, following increasing bagel sales.Its existing Rotherham factory will be extended to increase capacity, which will see it become the largest bagel factory in Europe, according to the firm.The announcement comes only a week after Maple Leaf revealed it would be closing its Walsall site, which manufactures sliced bread, to concentrate on the growth of its speciality bread product brands, such as New York Bakery Co.Following a 66% increase in sales since the relaunch New York Bakery Co’s bagel range in January, the firm is to invest £11.5m in the infrastructure of the business, and has also been allocated a £3m communications budget.The firm said its UK expansion plans will further strengthen the brand’s category leadership; it already holds a 76% market share.According New York Bakery Co, its bagel relaunch was the biggest value contributor to the morning goods category this year, adding over £8m in incremental sales since the beginning of this year (Nielsen Scantrack Value Sales Ytd 09/07/11).Simon Foster, VP marketing of Maple Leaf Bakery UK, said: “The significant backing by Maple Leaf will enable us to move forward with our ambitious expansion plans in the next five to 10 years. As a result we can now increase our capacity at our Rotherham site to meet growing consumer demand and support our growth aspirations as the market leader in speciality bagels.”>>Maple Leaf closes bakery despite increase in profits>>Profits up 3% for Maple Leaf Bakery UKlast_img read more

Government funds set to benefit bakery training

first_imgBakery companies will be key beneficiaries of a new £1.7m government-funded scheme to improve food sector skills, including the creation of a new food engineering degree.A number of leading bakery companies worked closely with Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, and the National Skills Academy to win the funding, announced last month. The money will cover around half the cost of the new skills programme with food and drink businesses committing to provide the same amount again in cash, time and in-kind support. A key focus of the scheme is to reduce the food industry’s reliance on migrant workers in favour of home-grown talent.One of the initiatives will see the creation of a UK Centre of Excellence in Food Production Engineering and a new food engineering university programme, designed to provide a minimum of 40 graduate engineers a year. This will form part of the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) Graduate Ambition programme to develop an industry-specific degree qualification.Justine Fosh, director of Improve’s National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, which will deliver many of the projects, said engineering was an area that was particularly relevant to the baking industry. “Some of the biggest bakery firms will tell you that finding graduate engineers is a major problem, that graduates don’t have knowledge of the industry and often need to be retrained. Companies will design the degree programme themselves so it meets their specific needs,” she said.The engineering Centre of Excellence will be based at a single university with the first degree expected to begin in September 2013. The Employer Investment Fund administered by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, is providing funding.In another move to plug the skills gap Angela Coleshill, FDF’s director of competitiveness, said it had pledged to double apprentice numbers in the food manufacturing sector to 4,000, by 2012. Two thousand apprentices currently work in the sector.last_img read more

Whitmer warns the worst of the pandemic is hitting now

first_img Pinterest Twitter Twitter Google+ Whitmer warns the worst of the pandemic is hitting now Facebook Facebook WhatsApp During a news conference on Thursday, Nov. 12, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the second coronavirus wave is hitting the state hard right now.Whitmer said Michigan is in the worst part of the pandemic to date. Case numbers are skyrocketing. The curve that had flattened is now a straight line heading up. Hospitals are nearing capacity, and burning through the stockpile of PPE.Without action, Whitmer said the state will hit its daily peak of cases by Christmas. She likened to scope of the numbers to ten 737s crashing every day.She implored residents to follow emergency rules from the health department, wear face masks, practice social distancing, wash hands frequently, get a flu shot.As far as hospitalizations go, she said its increased five fold in the past five weeks and the patient count is expected to double in the next two weeks.She said Thanksgiving has to be different this year. Medical experts strongly recommend that not to host people from outside of our own households this year and, instead, arrange Zoom meetings with our loved ones where no one is put at risk. WhatsApp CoronavirusIndianaLocalMichiganNews Google+ Pinterest By Tommie Lee – November 13, 2020 7 291 Previous articleBoil order over in Benton HarborNext articleMan accused of killing Goshen College professor found guilty Tommie Leelast_img read more