Keeping it in the family

first_imgIt may have been the year of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, but for the Spencer family of Hathern in Leicestershire, 1953 marked the start of a business that would evolve into one of the most respected craft bakeries in the area.From its post-war inception, bread has always been king at Spencer’s and success is credited to the use of quality ingredients and “good, old-fashioned recipes”.Originally, bread and confectionery were produced and sold door to door until the 1980s when people were beginning to enjoy the value and variety of the supermarkets. As eating habits continued to change, the lunchtime trade evolved and Spencers Bakery found its bread rolls were in great demand, so it diversified into wholesale and, over the years, this has become its speciality.As many small bakery shops began to disappear from the high street, customer demand for Spencers’ bread did not fade, leading to the opening of its first retail outlet in 1994. Currently run by the third generation of the family, Ian Spencer and his sister Yvonne Leeson, who were literally brought up in the bakery, the pair have been in joint control since 1992 and also have their three offspring working alongside them.Old-fashioned waySo what makes Spencers’ bread so special? “It’s the flavour, because we make it the old-fashioned way,” says Ian. “We don’t mass-produce anything here. Everything is baked using our own recipes and we don’t use any mixes at all. We are scratch bakers. Our dough is fermented for an hour before we weigh it off. The whole process, until it goes into the oven, takes around four hours.”The business is split between 60% wholesale and 40% retail. The main bulk of the wholesale side is producing bread rolls for the numerous sandwich vans and roadside cafés on the industrial and retail estates in Loughborough and the surrounding towns.The bakery uses two tonnes of flour a week, supplied by Greens Flour Mills and EB Bradshaw & Sons of Driffield, and includes white, brown and Granary. Bread includes large and small tins, bloomers, French sticks and so many different types of roll, it is difficult to count. Everything is made at the bakery, including morning goods and cakes. Products are then delivered, using a fleet of four vans, to sandwich vans and small outlets or taken to the Spencers’ shop.Sausage rolls are made once a week, using handmade puff pastry and locally sourced sausage meat. They are frozen and then baked-off daily. Meat pies are not produced due to the complex health and hygiene regulations governing raw meat.Spencers’ reputation has spread by word of mouth and trade has consistently built up over the years. The company does not advertise – not even its name on the side of its vans. Customers approach Spencers for its business and not the other way round.The firm boasts 160 wholesale customers. Ian knows this because he sends out the invoices every Monday with his van drivers and the money is always collected by the end of the week. There are no bad debtors.Retail ventureThe company had always supplied independent retailers in the small town of Shepshed, which is five miles from the bakery. But as their numbers dwindled the family saw an opportunity, deciding to expand the empire and open a shop of their own, which they did in 1994.Ian says: “We found the right premises – it had been an old printing shop and we completely gutted and fitted it out as a shop. It’s gone from strength to strength.” Sandwiches are freshly made at the shop in a purpose-built preparation room. The lunchtime trade is based on filled rolls. Pupils from the local secondary school are key customers so accompaniments such as crisps, cakes and drinks are also in demand.The shop is equipped with a microwave, so bacon and sausages are cooked at the bakery in the morning and then delivered to the shop to be reheated at lunchtime.Orders for celebration cakes are generated through the shop and crafted at the bakery by a dedicated decorator. Ian has decided against making organic bread for several reasons. “We’re quite busy enough with our bread. We have had the opportunity to diversify with an organic range, but personally I don’t think it’s worth it. Organic is an expensive way of buying food and there’s no guarantee that it is what people say it is. Personally, I don’t think you can beat natural, good quality ingredients.”The business was started by Ian’s grandfather Herbert (although he was always known as Everard) then his father Reg and uncles Fred and Eric joined the business. The family owned a smallholding and lived in a several cottages on the site – the bakery was made by converting an outbuilding.There have been two refurbishments of the bakery. One was to extend the premises in the 1970s and the other was buying new equipment. Ian says: “As we’ve grown, we’ve had to buy larger machines and adjust our recipes slightly.” Ian’s daughter Lisa has already clocked up 10 years in the family firm, while son Liam is the ‘computer whizz’ of the family and is currently in the process of developing an accounts system. They work alongside Yvonne’s son Christopher.As well as family members, there are 15 staff, nine full- and six part-time. There is not a huge turnover of staff, says Ian. “We didn’t employ anyone until the 1970s and over the last 30 years all the staff who have ever worked here have been very loyal to me.”So over the years have they experienced much competition? “There are other bakers who do wholesale deliveries and one or two have tried to step on our toes and take our customers away from us,” says Ian. “But they have not been successful – we can hold our own. One of the secrets of our success is that we have not grown too big. I think that is where people get into trouble.”Expansion plansWhen Spencers opened the Shepshed shop other small bakers in the area included Mr Bun’s, Jordan’s, Coombes and Hampshire’s. Now, only the Leicester-based Hampshire’s and Spencers is left. So are there any plans for more shops? “We’re quite happy with just the one, but I wouldn’t mind opening another nearby, probably in East Leake, which is a few miles away, but only if the right property came up.”Ian firmly believes that the resurrection of the small independent retailer on the high street will happen. However, the difficulty lies in finding skilled staff to run a craft bakery.“Youngsters these days don’t want to get up at some unearthly hour to start work and they certainly don’t want to be working through the night when they could be out enjoying themselves,” he says. Another major problem is the lack of quality bakery training courses. Spencers trains most of its staff in-house, where Ian feels they get a much better education than in most of the bakery schools. “The NVQ they do at college these days is nothing compared to the City and Guilds I did when I was there,” he says. “That used to cover everything; now it is split into different categories. Students can choose to do what they want, instead of learning how to do everything and then specialising. “Added to that, it is very expensive and smaller employers cannot afford to send their trainees to do the course.”He adds that the prevalence of bakery mixes has also helped to drain skills from the industry. “I genuinely believe that if there are skilled bakers who take pride in producing good quality items, there will always be a customer base waiting,” he says. “It would be great to see the small baker make a return to the high street.”Looking to the future, Ian jokes that he would like to be sitting under a palm tree in 10 years, but concedes that he will probably still be hard at work at his oven. “I’d definitely like to open another shop. If the youngsters are still interested and want to carry it on, then we shall still be going,” he says. “I enjoy working, I just couldn’t sit around all day doing nothing. I like doing practical things such as woodworking and also like my horse racing, but very rarely get much time to enjoy it.” Family manWorking the hours he does, starting at 3am, except on Thursdays and Fridays when he begins at 10.30pm, Ian does not get much chance to have a social life. “But I love being with my family when I get home in the evenings and at the weekends it’s great to spend time with them. We are all very close.”So, when Ian and Yvonne eventually retire, who will take over? “There’s a question!” he laughs. “I think it will probably stay in joint ownership – just like it is now.”last_img read more

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Show to go biennial

first_imgFrench bakery exhibition Europain is set to become a more frequent event, switching from every three years to every two, show organisers said at the launch of the 2008 exhibition.Around 600 exhibitors are expected at the now biennial five-day event, to be held at Parc des Expositions de Paris, from 29 March to 2 April.Exhibitors will cover equipment, ingredients, products and services for the craft sector, industrial baking, pastry making, chocolate and confectionery and shop equipment markets. More than half of the visitors are expected to come from craft bakeries.Europain 2008 will also feature the Bakery World Cup, pitting 12 international regional winners against each other, with UK representative, Manchester’s Tameside College, hoping to make the finals. Three students – Steven Salt, Gabrielle Baxter and Michael Wilde – will compete in the semi-finals in Lille, northern France, tomorrow (1 December) against teams from Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Israel. The winners will be announced in next week’s BB.last_img read more

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Organic sales rocket, but wheat shortages loom

first_imgbakery market was worth £42m in the year to November 2007, representing a small proportion of the total organic food market in the UK, which stands at £2bn.The new research, conducted by Leatherhead Food International, also found that organic bread is worth £26m, up 25.3% in the past year.The report, which was commissioned by ingredients supplier British Bakels, claimed that “significant expansion of the organic bread market could be held back by a lack of local wheat supplies”. Most organic wheat is imported from Canada, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan.”Bread lags behind other food products in terms of share of consumer spend,” said Paul Morrow, MD of British Bakels. “If we were to achieve the same share for organic bread of the retail market as the majority of other organic products, sales would virtually double.”The report found there has been limited activity in the organic cakes market. “Consumers shopping for cakes are more likely to base choices on convenience or indulgence than ethical concerns,” said the report.See 1 February, 2008, issue for more on the organic market.last_img read more

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Peter Hunt business to close

first_imgBolton-based manufacturer Peter Hunt is to close, with the loss of 200 jobs. Hunt’s was part of the Lyndale Group, which went into administration last month. While part of Lyndale’s business was saved in a management buy-out, Hunt’s, which makes pies and pasties, was left without an owner.Dermot Power, business restructuring partner at administators BDO Stoy Hayward, said: “We have worked hard to find a buyer for the Peter Hunt business in the face of challenging market conditions and it is regrettable that we have been unable to do so. “The only remaining option for Peter Hunt is to close the business, making staff redundant.”He added: “I’d like to thank all the staff who have continued to work with us during what has been a very difficult time.”last_img read more

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Hovis makes biggest ever investment in its brand

first_imgA £15m relaunch of the Hovis brand – the largest in its history – gets under way this month, after its declining market share contributed to a 23.2% slump in half-year profits to £14.6m at Premier Foods’ bakery business.Hovis marketing director Jon Goldstone said the record spend for a Hovis promotion would be complemented by “tens of millions of pounds” of additional investment in capital and recipe improvements. The principle of the campaign, he added, was “to put real pride back in the fantastic Hovis brand”.Goldstone said the logo “had been messed around with in the last few years”, and added: “So we decided to go back to a classical logo, more associated with the brand 20 to 30 years ago.” New packaging, which is already in stores, is designed “to let the bread be the hero”.A 122-second TV and cinema advert kicks off on 12 September. In mid-October, press and, for the first time, online advertising gets under way.In its interim management statement for the six months to the end of June, Premier Foods revealed that sales in its Hovis division increased by 16.1% to £462.7m, which it said reflected higher prices, partly offset by lower bread volumes.Chief executive Robert Scho-field said the Hovis revamp would see it return to growth. Meanwhile, the chilled and Ireland division, which includes Avana Bakeries from RHM’s cakes division and all Premier’s operations in the Irish Republic, saw turnover increase by 2.6% to £196.9m and profits up—-=== In Short ===== Warburtons campaign ==Warburtons is kicking off a national promotion of its wholemeal range this September, designed to raise awareness of the importance of fibre in people’s diets. It is also launching a mini online drama called ’The Seeds of Love’ featuring its Seeded Batch Loaf. Warburtons’ Fibre Provider campaign will incorporate press ads, a sampling roadshow and the launch of websites [http://www.fibreprovider.co.uk] and [http://www.bitesizedpassion.co.uk].== Barnett’s huge bill ==Family-run pasty maker Barnett Fare, based in Cornwall, has been left shocked after receiving an enormous £40k energy bill from Eon. Owner Julia Barnett said: “Their meter readers have been misreading the meters for nearly eight years.” The Forum of Private Businesses (FPB) is urging the pasty company to take the matter further.== Beanscene nears sale ==Administrator KPMG looks set to announce a preferred bidder for Scottish coffee chain Beanscene. Around 30 formal bids have been whittled down to six. The 14-strong chain went into administration on 24 July.== Brace’s donations ==Family baker Brace’s is offering charities, community groups and schools across the south of England donations to mark its 106th birthday. The Bread for the Community Birthday Fund is offering local organisations the chance to apply for a “dough-nation” of £106. Requests must meet a specific need or be used for a particular project. To apply visit [http://www.bracesbakery.co.uk].== BB’s meal deal drive ==BB’s Coffee & Muffins is offering its customers free ’2 for 1’ vouchers for use in the Dungeons, Sea Life Centres and Sea Life Sanctuaries across the UK. The promotion will support BB’s meal deal offers.last_img read more

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Beaney’s Bakery aids fruit firms in crumble challenge

first_imgBeaney’s Bakery in Strood has joined forces with fruit specialists Fourayes Farm and Norman Collett to produce a one-tonne apple and blackberry crumble.The crumble was created for a new Good Food Channel TV show, Monster Munchies. It was pitched against another Kent-based company’s attempt but was crowned winner, at five times the weight of the previous largest fruit crumble recorded by Guinness World Records.The team was given just 24 hours to create the huge dessert, which was judged by a five-strong panel at the finale, held at Brogdale Farm.“We’d like to thank everyone who helped us with the project. Without them it wouldn’t have been possible,” commented team leader Sarah Calcutt, business development manager at Norman Collett. “The past few days have been extremely hectic, from sourcing the ingredients and working out the logistics to the rigorous health and safety checks – not to mention the cooking itself. But it has all been worthwhile and great fun as well.”Fourayes is a manufacturer and supplier of processed fruit and fillings. Norman Collett specialises in marketing top English fruit to the multiple sectors.>>Proper Cornish creates world’s heaviest pastylast_img read more

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No flakes for Délifrance

first_imgDélifrance UK claims to have launched ’flake-free’ pastry slices, to making snacking easier for on-the-go consumers. Available in cheese & tomato, spinach & ricotta and smoked bacon & cheese varieties, the slices are ready to bake from frozen in 30 minutes. They come in packs of 70 and can be served hot or cold.The firm is hoping to capitalise on the current popularity of pies and pasties. “With 57% of adults saying ’there are not enough hours in the day’ it’s not surprising our snacking society has grown in strength,” said Lucy Pickersgill, Délifrance channel controller. “We think our flake-free slices will be loved by the ever-busy customer and caterer alike.”last_img read more

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WMF works on foam

first_imgWMF has launched ’Bistro! with dual milk’ following the success of its Bistro! coffee machines.The new machine enables the operator to make bean-to-cup coffee using the fully automatic, one-step process at busy times or, when a more individual feel is required, the manually operated steam wand, which can be used as part of a two-step process.The firm said the machine offers more control and consistency, thanks to a heat sensor in the steam wand, which will stop the steam when the set temperature has been reached. It offers three grades of foam: superfine an extremely dense foam with a shiny, creamy consistency, used for lattes; fine the normal standard of foam required to make cappuccinos; and standard for when volume and large quantities of foam are required.Additional features include the ability to set individual temperatures for each type of drink; and the option of having three integrated hoppers so a drinks menu can include a variety of chocolate drinks, as well as decaffeinated coffee.last_img read more

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NTSB: School district shares blame for crash that killed 3

first_img NTSB: School district shares blame for crash that killed 3 By Associated Press – April 8, 2020 0 353 Twitter Pinterest Facebook Google+ Twitter IndianaLocalNews WhatsApp Facebook (Photo supplied/Indiana State Police) ROCHESTER, Ind. (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says a northern Indiana school district is partially to blame for a 2018 crash that killed three siblings crossing a rural highway to reach their stopped school bus.The NTSB said Tuesday the crash near Rochester was caused by a pickup truck driver’s failure to stop for the school bus, despite its activated and clearly visible warning lights and stop arm.In February, the driver, Alyssa Shepherd was given a sentence of four years in prison for hitting and killing the children and injuring another.However, it says contributing to the crash was the Tippecanoe Valley School Corp.’s inadequate safety assessment of school bus routes.That resulted in a prevalence of bus stops that required students to cross high-speed roadways to board a bus. Previous articleMishawaka secures $282,298 for local coronavirus effortNext articleSt. Joseph County first responders to conduct lights and sirens procession Associated PressNews from the Associated Press and its network of reporters and publications. WhatsApp Pinterest Google+last_img read more

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Indiana State Police trooper bitten by man he was trying to arrest

first_img WhatsApp Indiana State Police trooper bitten by man he was trying to arrest Twitter Twitter (Jon Zimney/95.3 MNC) An Indiana State Police trooper was bitten by a man he was trying to place into custody.The trooper pulled over a silver Mitsubishi on the Indiana Toll Road in Lake County on Saturday.The driver refused to identify himself to the officer and became aggressive.As the trooper was putting the man in custody, the suspect bit the officer on the arm.That’s when a child got out of the car and started to run into traffic. While the officer was instructing the 6 year-old to get back in the car, the suspect took off running.Police looked for the man, but couldn’t find him and are still looking.The child was released to its mother. Facebook Facebook Google+ Google+ WhatsApp IndianaLocalNews Pinterest By Jon Zimney – August 24, 2020 0 381 Pinterest Previous articleGov. Holcomb signs order to increase child care options during virtual school daysNext articleAnalysts: Gas prices still dropping, will likely drop more next month Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney.last_img read more

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