Legislation watch

first_imgThe Forum of Private Business (FPB) has called on the government to lift barriers preventing smaller businesses competing for contracts from public authorities.Its argument has been strengthened by a report on public procurement from the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee that said smaller firms were hampered by the complex and costly tendering process.FPB campaigns manager Matt Hardman said that while the principles of the government’s procurement policy were clear, its practical implementation was “a huge problem and smaller firms, which could often provide authorities with the best value for money, are excluded from the tendering process”.The FPB provided evidence to the committee of MPs, supported by case studies from a selection of the 25,000 small and medium-sized firms it represents. It urged the government to ensure contracts are awarded according to the principle of best value for money.One FPB member commented: “Public procurement bodies tend to put out contracts to consultants who charge fees of between £250 and £600 just to add your name to their database, with absolutely no guarantees of any work.”Hardman said public authorities tend to “bundle tenders together for convenience when they could get better value for money by breaking them up and putting them out to tender individually”.Separately, the FPB has called on the government to cut or remove business rates on around 150,000 small businesses.last_img read more

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No weak Link

first_img“Not just brown bread”: the rise and rise of McCambridgeMcCambridge is the largest manufacturer of wholewheat soda bread in Ireland. But the last seven years have seen it branch out into other areas, following an ambitious acquisitions growth strategy, which has seen its turnover leap nearly five-fold in the last year alone.McCambridge was established in 1985 but has a history of food production and retailing dating back to 1945. It employs some 2,500 staff across 20 bakeries. Turnover for 2008 is estimated at £175 million, making it the second-largest cake manufacturer in the UK and it plans to build on the 110 million mice pies it supplied into retail last year.While the family business has roots stretching back to the mid-20th century, the McCambridge Group was formed in 1999, with a view to entering the UK market, and has since made 10 strategic acquisitions.The first of those came in 2001 with WR&SV Hussey, followed in 2002 with Aldreds the Bakers. Between 2005 and 2007, businesses came thick and fast, with Plymouth Premier Pasties and Plymouth Premier Bakeries, West of England Bakeries, Queen of Hearts and Tredinnick Fine Foods all joining, culminating in the big one in July last year, the purchase of ailing Inter Link Foods.The company also acquired three Irish bakeries – Duggans, Gill’s and Cookes – as well as a large-scale cake bakery in Poland, which came with Inter Link. The Polish bakery is spearheading a drive into Russia and the Ukraine and developing links into Germany, Holland and Spain. Innovation planThe three-year plan, Cox reveals, will be to complete the first phase of integrating the Inter Link businesses. After that, the longer-term group strategy will focus on product innovation, and an analysis of where its products sit in the category. For example, the delivery of Soreen into the marketplace could be improved.”We’re in an ongoing process of reviewing where our core capabilities are and where our core strengths are,” says Cox. “We’ve established that there are certain sectors that we’re very strong in, such as the Soreen brand, that we’re looking to develop. Soreen is a great brand and it’s got a lot of potential. But the snack bars are not always displayed in the right place, so we’re looking to help the retailers maximise their sales by putting that right.”He hopes to better utilise the specialist knowledge of the bespoke businesses in the south, as well as Ireland, for more creative NPD across the large capacity cake lines. “We have strengths in our more niche southern sites,” he says. “We’re trying to focus that creativity around those niche premium products, and bring them more into the mainstream capacity product lines of the old Inter Link.”Cox believes that its mix of premium niche bakeries and production scale give it a competitive edge going into retail. Part of that will involve bringing Fairtrade products into the mainstream, though he was staying tight-lipped on the details. “We’re working on some products that are confidential, which no other retailer is working on, and which will give us a leading edge in the marketplace.”While Inter Link was geared to own-label supply, we are likely to see more McCambridge branding on products, he added. Part of the long-term strategic plan is to develop the brands, especially the McCambridge one. “We’re in the infancy of that development. We’re considering some new products, and trying to work out where those products sit – whether that’s in own-label or a brand.”So what is Cox personally hoping to bring to the company? “My experiences are of working in much larger organisations, such as Uniq and Rentokil. There are some skills and disciplines I can bring from having worked outside the food business [though his last job was with St Ivel]. I’ve also been involved in turnarounds, looking at the key priorities and the longer-term strategy for the business.”Picking up Inter Link out of administration has taken a significant amount of our time and resources, and that will carry on over the coming weeks. So there has been quite a lot of focus on the short-term priorities that the business has. As we come out of that, we’ll be able to focus much more on the longer-term plans we have.” Back in 2005, McCambridge’s chairman, Michael McCambridge, was quoted in the Irish Times as saying: “McCambridge is linked almost exclusively with brown bread and we want to keep it that way.” Two years later, it acquired the second-biggest cake manufacturer in the UK, in the shape of Inter Link Foods. But they’d already picked up three UK businesses by that point, en route to the 10 in total that they’ve accrued in the UK and Ireland since 1999.What’s that all about? “That’s Michael McCambridge speaking to an Irish paper!” exclaims chief operating officer Martin Davey. “McCam- bridge in Ireland is known for its brown bread.” Fair enough. Lucky we’re called British Baker.So what’s changed? And, more crucially, what did the top brass see in the ailing cake giant Inter Link Foods, five times McCambridge’s size, that got their juices flowing? The last nine months will have been a fascinating time for any flies on the wall. Inter Link’s debts left a stream of seething creditors in its wake, while there were headaches with Inter Link’s logistics, with that business itself having undergone a series of quick-fire acquisitions.McCambridge had already had successes turning around the likes of handmade tarts specialist Queen of Hearts, which it acquired in 2006. That bakery was losing a lot of money before it was taken over – a situation that has since been reversed, says Davey. Inter Link’s massive scale and debt posed a bigger challenge, which it claims to be overcoming. But don’t call McCambridge turnaround specialists…”I don’t think we’re that arrogant! We just want to do a good job,” insists Davey. So the company is not some bakery equivalent to Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, stepping in to rescue struggling businesses? “Not everything we’ve bought has been out of administration. Until buying Inter Link, some of them were profitably trading businesses. The opportunities have not just been at the distressed end of the business.”And the opportunities were large. The reverse take-over of Inter Link offered a portfolio that McCambridge didn’t have: a route into some of the major retailers plus a huge amount of production capacity and capability. So what was McCambridge’s primary ambition? “To make a profit,” states new CEO Gavin Cox bluntly. “To take it from being a loss-making, apparently unwieldy business, into something more coherent and structured, as a sustainable business in its own right. What attracted me to McCambridge were the core strengths. It has some fantastic brands, fantastic businesses, and I saw it as a great opportunity.”Inter Link’s troubles appear to be in the past for Cox, who has had a rapid ascent to the top job since joining McCambridge in July 2007, being promoted from group finance director in February this year. The management team has largely been replaced, with the aim of addressing the question: what went wrong with Inter Link? “The directors of Inter Link went on day zero and we took over a pre-made management structure,” says Davey. We’ve realigned that and made some changes and we work well together; I don’t think we could have said that nine months ago. We have a common purpose.””We’ve tried to ingrain the McCambridge ethos,” adds Cox. “One of the things we’ve done is change the culture, change the behaviour and the way things are done. The core businesses were sound businesses. There was nothing fundamentally broken with them. There were inroads into markets and into the customer. It’s just a question of how you manage it and how you leverage that marketplace.”Following a ’period of adjustment’, creditors are on credit terms and, since January, the logistics have been overhauled. “We have a 250,000-case-a-week distribution operation, which is – if not perfect – well over 99%, and we’re very pleased with it,” says Davey proudly. “The savings we’d planned to make, we’ve made.”last_img read more

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California Raisins and Waterfields team up

first_imgThe California Raisin Administrative Committee has teamed up with Waterfields bakers on a meal deal promotion. As part of the promotion, which will run throughout June, Waterfield’s new product development team have produced a California Raisin Fruity Nut bar, which will be offered with a fruited Californian Raisin roll filled with Lancashire cheese plus a bottle of spa water, for £2.25. Customers will also be given a packet of California Raisins and a scratchcard.The scratchcard will give customers the opportunity to win a major prize of a £1,000 holiday voucher plus many other smaller prizes from £2.50 off their next shopping bill to free cold drinks and fruity nut bars.California Raisins’ marketing manager Dee Cassey said: “We are delighted to be working together with such an established family business as Waterfields. We are very excited about this pilot scheme and are hoping for a great result to take this further.”last_img read more

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Carford’s counter move

first_imgThe Carford Group’s new Lincoln CTI Countertop impinger oven (1300 Series) has digital controls that allow for easy programming, said the firm.It is small enough to sit on most commercial countertops, and has a new front-controlled reversible conveyor direction switch.The CTI also has a 16-inch-wide conveyor belt and a 20-inch baking chamber and can be stacked two high. The impinger allows food to be cooked quickly at a variety of different temperatures.[http://www.carford.co.uk]last_img

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The genius of Dr Allinson

first_imgHow do you transform obese folk into “ordinary” people? It’s obvious, duh! Make them run a half marathon every day. If only Dr Allinson had made his suggestion more forcefully a century ago…On fighting the flab: “Exercise must be taken daily; four or five miles a day to begin with, not necessarily all at once, increased until 10 or 12 miles can easily be taken. These are the rules that must be carried out if obese persons want to become like ordinary citizens, and not live like animated flour barrels.”Next week: cold turkeylast_img

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Waterfields scoops up Merseyside bakery chain

first_imgWaterfields has bought Pimblett’s 10 shops in the St Helens’ area of Merseyside out of administration, after the craft bakery chain went out of business at the beginning of the month.Around 65 jobs have been saved in the deal, which takes Waterfields’ retail estate to 49 shops, but Pimblett’s central bakery has been closed, with the loss of 60 jobs. Administrator KPMG said that “tough trading conditions and rising food prices” were to blame for the company’s problems.The 10 shops, which are now being supplied by Waterfields’ main bakery in Leigh, Lanca-shire, will continue to trade as Pimblett’s in the run-up to Christmas, but will be rebranded with Waterfields’ fascia in the New Year, said managing director John Waterfield.”The extra shops complement our business and are not in direct competition with our other stores in the area,” said Waterfield. “Our economies of scale will help to make the stores more successful.”John Pimblett & Sons was founded in 1921 by John and Mary Pimblett and was still a family business, run by third- generation baker John Pimblett, until it ran into trouble. The company was well-known for its pies and celebration cakes.last_img read more

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Bread and butter tale

first_img“Hovis bakes 3,300lb bread and butter pudding” was the eyebrow-raising headline in The Telegraph that stopped Stop the Week’s week this week. “A bread and butter pudding weighing the same as two baby elephants has been unveiled,” it unveiled.Impressive, we said to ourselves, nodding. Then, mid-doffing of cap, we caught sight of the picture. “Don’t look like no 3,300lb pudding to us,” we thought! That equates to 235 stone.So, we did the maths:1,000 slices of bread (based on one slice weighing 40g): 40kg 70 apples @ 200g per apple: 14kg 56 eggs @ 50g per egg: 2.8kg = 56.8kgThere is no measure given for sultanas, milk, cream, sugar or spices etc. Based on rough percentages, we estimate it would double the amount. So let’s say 115kg in total. That’s some way short of 3,300lb (1,497kg), or The Telegraph’s two baby elephants.Now, seeing as it measured 9x5ft (2.13×1.5m), Hovis would have to chuck in some pretty weighty ingredients to make up the shortfall. The most dense element on earth is osmium, with 22.61g per cm3. Even with that added, you’re going to struggle. Plus, osmium is highly volatile and toxic. Hovis staff in High Wycome were reported to have scoffed the lot and as far as we know they’re still alive and kicking, which rules that out.This is the second time in recent months that Stop the Week has picked The Telegraph up on its dodgy numbers (in May they said a jam doughnut contains 5.7mg saturated fat). Remember that the next time they run a story bemoaning the state of UK education.last_img read more

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In Short

first_imgGoal for Jaffa CakesEngland goalkeeper David James is the new face of McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes’ consumer campaign. It marks the launch of a football-themed on-pack promotion across McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes, which offers consumers the chance to win football-related prizes. These include Nintendo Wiis, footballs and football goals, to encourage families to get active this summer.Apprentice accolade Sunè Brunton, an apprentice from Martins Foods, has been named as a finalist at the National Apprenticeship Service’s annual prize-giving ceremony. Brunton joined the bakery in 2004 and has developed new products for major retailers including Asda and Sainsbury’s. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster on 15 July.Irish route to marketIrwin’s Bakery will invest E1m (£809,423) into its Irish supply chain network during the next three years to create a direct route to retailers in the Dublin area. The family-owned business, based in Portadown, Co Armagh, believes the investment, which includes buying new distribution vehicles, will bring about an initial E750,000 (£607,067) increase in turnover during the next year.Fat reduction adviceCampden BRI has produced information for new product development staff working to reduce the fat content of products containing meat, such as pies. Reducing the fat content of meat products: a review of fat replacement (Review No. 65) summarises the implications of removing fat from meat products and outlines the methods used to reduce fat in product trials conducted worldwide.last_img read more

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Cadbury Cocoa House seeks London bread firm

first_imgCadbury Cocoa House is gearing up for the launch of the first of 50 planned outlets and is currently looking to work with a London-based specialist bread supplier.The first outlet is to open in Bluewater shopping centre, Kent in early October, and several further London locations are planned for 2011, “with up to 50 locations planned nationally within the next five years”, said a spokesperson for the firm.The outlets will be serving traditional home-made afternoon teas including items such as sandwiches, cakes and patisserie, but the menu is still being finalised, added the spokesperson. The outlets will also house a retro ice cream parlour, offering Knicker-bocker Glories, and champagne will be available by the glass.”The plan is to offer something totally unique, which taps into British values and British heritage, bringing a touch of affordable luxury and nostalgia to the high street,” explained the spokesperson.She added that Cadbury Cocoa House will take cues from the past as its inspiration for the future. It will regularly revise its menu and will feature a “post-modern interior and upbeat ambience reminiscent of yesteryear”.Any London-based specialist bread manufacturers interested in supplying the outlets should email [email protected]last_img read more

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