Getting started
● First up, you need to make sure your store is right for an in-store bakery and suppliers need to make sure your store is right for them. Cuisine de France, for example, will send a representative round to evaluate your store, to look at your location, your shopper profile and your competition
● Other factors to consider include electrics (dependent on what type of oven you choose); freezer space, as most products will arrive frozen; preparation space (for an oven, prep area and two sinks – one for hands and one for utensils); and display space to show off the products
● There is a lot of equipment on the market so there should be something to suit your store. Cuisine de France has a three-tray oven for smaller stores which works well with its small display stand and holds a minimum of 10 core bakery lines. For larger stores it has a new automatic four- or five-tray oven which boasts a pre-programmed operation for “the perfect bake every time”.
You don’t have to be Delia Smith to operate an in-store bakery. Tracy West takes a look at Cuisine de France’s Baking Academy.

Cuisine de France (CDF) is keen to sell its bread and pastries – so keen that it wants to make it as easy as possible for retailers to operate an in-store bakery (ISB). To that end it has three Baking Academies (Southall, London; Stone, Staffordshire; and Bellshill, Glasgow). Marketing director David Girdler describes these as the “heart of the business”. 

“We have expert trainers at the academies and train our own staff in them. Typically, a retailer would have initial training at one of our academies with follow-up training in their stores. Sometimes retailers are trained individually; sometimes as part of a workshop,” he explains.

Girdler realises that some retailers are too busy to spend hours away from their store, but says that if a retailer has never had an ISB before it’s better to come to the academy – “that way they get no interruptions and can concentrate fully”. Training lasts for at least four hours.

At the outset, retailers are given a manual which they work through on the day of their training. It starts with a section on basic hygiene and retailers have the option to do a separate hygiene certificate. There is no charge for the Academy training but a nominal fee for the certificate, which is valid for 12 months.

Other sections in the training pack include handling of frozen and chilled products; baking and preparation; programmable oven-baking guidelines; heat-and-eat products; and sandwich specifications. The manual also has step-by-step guides to baking slices and bars, making hot breakfast baps and baking and filling baguettes, accompanied by pictures. And there are suggestions for meal deals such as coffee and a breakfast roll, or soup and a sandwich.

Girdler says some retailers are nervous when they go into the academies, but staff try to put them at their ease. “It’s also our job to engage them and make the training as interesting as possible,” he says.

The Academies split into two – one part for foodservice operators and the other for retailers. The retail section has a full Cuisine to Go offer with ovens, prep areas and sinks plus a modular display unit. In fact, everything is modular so retailers can pick and choose which items they need to fit their store size and layout.

Girdler describes the ovens at the academies as “almost foolproof”. They have pictures on them so retailers and their staff just match the product to the picture on the programme list, press a button and wait for the item to cook. “These new ovens really do everything for you so if you open the door to check on the cooking it will reset itself. On a manual oven the operator has to do this and sometimes people forget and that’s when problems can happen,” he explains.

What’s new?
● Kepak has added a vegetarian variety to its Ugo’s Deli Café range. The four cheese & sweet red onion chutney panini joins chargrilled chicken with mozzarella cheese & pesto, and bacon, cheese & mustard mayo. The range is backed by a £1.8m spend this year.
● Country Choice is offering retailers the components and recipes for six hot sandwiches. Each sandwich uses the company’s new white sub roll and there are 11 fillings. Suggested sandwiches include Italian meatball, cheesy beef & red onion and sweet chilli chicken.
● Also new from Country Choice is the Big Bite sausage roll. The 250g rolls comes in cases of 40 with a unit price of 69p. Recommended retail price is £1.35.
● Ginsters has added New York-style steak & cheese to its Pasties of the World range. It is made from West Country steak, New York deli-style mustard and manchego cheese. Recommended retail price is £1.89.
Retailers undergoing training always ask about waste. Girdler accepts that it can be a problem, but reckons you can easily get on top of it: “You have to plan and understand, by that I mean keeping records. What you are doing is producing a mini factory production programme for your store. You start on Monday by recording what you bake and what you sell, so by the end of the week you have a trading pattern. Obviously, holidays and the weather can change patterns but it’s vitally important to keep records so you can base your baking on them.”

CDF staff also give tips on what retailers can do with some of the leftover food. For example, unsold croissants can be filled the next day with a cold filling.

Girdler says his company’s aim is to make operating an ISB as easy as possible for retailers, and that starts with the purchasing. “If leasing or finance is needed we can help. We can do the installation. We do it all competitively because our objective is to sell our products. If consumers love the look of our products then they’ll buy them, so it’s in our interest to make sure retailers have the right equipment.”

He says cleaning is the part of the job that people most often neglect. “You’ve got to clean up after spills. If there are brown marks down the front of the oven it doesn’t reflect the right image and people won’t buy the products. If you are not replicating the experience shoppers get in a Prêt or a Starbucks, they won’t buy from you.”

Training also includes tips on presentation. Says Girdler: “For example, you don’t always have to have a full cabinet but clever merchandising can make it look full. It’s important for us that our products looks brilliant at the point of purchase.” 

Once they are back at their store, if a retailer has a problem they can call CDF and talk to telesales who can put them on to one of their technical staff. “We prefer to do this as most problems can be dealt with over the phone. You’d be surprised at the number of times we get a problem with equipment not working and it’s because the cleaner has unplugged the appliance. However, if we can’t resolve the problem of course we send someone out to the store. We put a lot of time and energy into looking after retailers because it’s in our interest to do so.”

Girdler says retailers are always surprised at the breadth of the CDF offer and also at how simple things are. “We can offer retailers a bakery range comprised entirely of thaw-and-serve products, but we’d prefer they had an oven, and they really are easy to use.”
Retailer’s view
Colin Landsburgh, Spar, Carnoustie

“I’ve had Cuisine de France in my stores for some years but last year put in an ‘all singing, all dancing’ food-to-go area in my high street store. All the products are self-service and it’s been a great success. Everything is pre-packed and barcoded, speeding things up at the checkouts. I’ve got two new ovens – one for in-store bakery and one for hot food to go. Having the two means we can keep on top of demand. They are easy to use, almost idiot-proof – they must be as I can use them!

“It was a major investment for us supported by CDF and it’s good for us that its Cuisine To Go branding fits well with Spar’s To Go branding. 

“We did have wastage in the early days, but it’s now under control. Once you’ve got your sales patterns established it’s much easier to control.”
● KFC has entered the breakfast market with the KFC AM range of products. A trial run has 18 outlets opening at 6am, serving traditional breakfast products until 10.30am
● McDonald’s is reported to be rolling out a range of premium products to appeal to cash-strapped consumers who are trading down from restaurant meals.
● Burger King is selling a £95 burger from its Gloucester Road outlet in London. Ingredients include Wagyu beef, white truffles and pata negra ham. Customers have to order ahead via a special hotline. Meanwhile, the fast food chain has recently launched what it says is the first burger for sharing. The BK Angus 6 Pack comprises six mini burgers, joined together for ‘tearing and sharing: two plain, two cheese and two bacon & cheese.
● Subway is now selling almost double the value of sandwiches of its nearest competitor, according to figures from the British Sandwich Association. The statistics state that Subway sold £300m-worth of sandwiches in 2007 followed by Tesco with £164m-worth and Marks & Spencer with £151m-worth.
● Whitbread is planning to double the number of its Costa coffee shops. There are currently 992 worldwide and Whitbread plans to increase that number to 2,000 in the next five years, with half of the new shops destined for the UK.
● In the US, Domino’s Pizza offers consumers an online Tracker service where they can track their order from the time it is placed through to preparation, baking, boxing and delivery. Apparently, it’s accurate to 40 seconds!