President Ian McGhee will welcome delegates to the conference and awards weekend - taking place 5-6 May in Glasgow - with an address focused on the resilience and creativity of the sector, which has endured one of the toughest trading years in memory.
A director of McGhees – which has been baking since 1936 – McGhee has hands-on experience in maintaining healthy margins while tackling soaring energy and commodity costs. He will also reflect on the work he has been involved in throughout his first year to support the trade.
Take a bow
The event will be Alasdair Smith's last as chief executive officer, after fives years in the hot set.
“When the curtain comes down on the Scottish Baker of the Year on Saturday night, that's me off the clock,” Smith told Bakery&Snacks.
“My background is in skills and apprenticeships, so from an employer side of the fence [not bakery], but very quickly came to realise this is an incredibly noble and proud trade and one that's got an amazing sense of fellowship. Whether you’re big or small, if you’re having any kind of issue or challenge, there will be another baker nearby that you'd be able to call upon.”
He added, “Over the course of the past five years, I like to think that I have supported my team through whatever challenges they may have faced, but also pushed them to achieve even more and be better versions of themselves. They are extraordinarily and committed to the trade and to the association and I know they will continue with that dedication to support all the members.”
The process for Smith’s successor is currently ongoing, “but I know the Board is keen to ensure that someone is able to come into the post quite quickly.”
Designed to benefit bakers, large and small
Conference delegates will also hear from Neil Gray MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing, Economy, Fair Work and Energy. His keynote address will be followed by answering questions from the audience.
A discussion on employment law, wellbeing and recruitment sees a panel of professionals shine a light on finding new ways to support staff, how to get the best from them and, vitally, how to reward their efforts.
This will be followed by a baker-led debate on training – specifically apprenticeships – and how this can benefit bakers, large and small, as a means of recruiting and retaining valuable staff, improving productivity and efficiency, reducing waste and ultimately saving money.
Delegates will also hear from Matthew Bond, creative director of Project D, which was the first ever recipient of the Online Bakery Business of the Year Award at British Baker’s 2022 BIA ceremony.
Founded in 2018, Project D now turns over around £3.5m and employs over 100 staff. Its TikTok video of a mega heart-shaped doughnut being filled, decorated and then devoured garnered more than six million views.
At the conference, Bond will share the baker’s ambitious growth plans for the next 24 months and how moving away from ‘bricks & mortar’ to online not only helped pivot the business during the height of the pandemic, but now accounts for 20% of all sales.
Follow up sessions will focus on consumer and market trends, innovation, and new ways of reaching existing and new customers. The Saturday programme ends with a word from the reigning Scottish Baker of the Year champions, Paddy and Jane Murphy from The Three Little Bakers in Inverness.
As always, conference host and Scottish Bakers Ambassador Mich Turner MBE will facilitate the day.
“The programme for 2023 is full of content that reflects the positive outlook of a sector keen for continued growth against a backdrop of ongoing challenges,” said McGhee.
“I would like to thank the team at Bakers House, and particularly our outgoing chief executive Alasdair Smith for curating what promises to be a thought provoking and intensely interesting weekend for our industry.”
Scottish Baker of the Year
While delegates will glean important industry insight and learnings during the conference, it is the crowing of the 2023/4 champions – on Saturday evening – that the industry is waiting for with bated breath.
According to Smith, this year’s Scottish Baker of the Year Awards undoubtedly reflects the growing confidence within the sector.
“The competition was our busiest ever. We had 630 products for judging from 70 businesses – up from about 480 from 57 businesses last year,” he said.
“Judging was a very intensive process. The business part was the most closely [contested] that I ever remember in my time of overseeing the competition, so when we make the announcements for the Bakery Cafe of the Year, the Craft Baker, the Retail Craft Baker and the Wholesale Baker, it’s worth remembering that there really wasn’t much to separate those who walk away with the trophy from the other finalists.
“Again, I think that’s reflective of the trade that is more confident in itself. They’re working hard on every part of their business, from the products to the way they communicate with their customers to the way that they train their staff and the way they present themselves,” he added.
The following bakers are in with a shot of a top prize:
Annie’s Bakery, Caithness
Asher’s Bakery, Nairn
Babyfaced Baker Ltd, Edinburgh
Bavarian Bakehouse, Cumbernauld
Biggar Flavour, Biggar
Byron Bakery, Aberdeen
California Kitchen and Catering, Glasgow
City Market Bakery (City of Glasgow College), Glasgow
Cuckoo’s Bakery, Edinburgh
Cukie Patisserie, Dunfermline
Fisher & Donaldson, Cupar
G.H. Barnett & Son, Anstruther
Gannets Northeast Limited, Laurencekirk
Gilardi Bakers Ltd (Stobbs the Baker), Ayr
Goodfellow & Steven, Dundee
Grazey Days, Inverness
Gretna Bakery, Gretna
Harry Gow Bakery, Inverness
Irvines Bakers and Confectioners, Beith
J B Christie (Christie the Baker), Airdrie
J G Ross (Bakers) Ltd, Inverurie
J M Bakery, Carnoustie
John Gillespie & Sons Ltd, Stranraer
Luscious Lovelies Cakes, Falkirk
Mackenzie’s Bakery, Portree
Maclean’s Highland Bakery, Forres
McGhee’s Bakery, Glasgow
Mimi’s Bakehouse, Edinburgh
Murrays Bakers, Perth
Nevis Bakery Ltd, Fort William
Newlands Home Bakery, Glasgow
Peter’s Bakery, Glasgow
Plant Blonde, Glasgow
Reid’s of Caithness, Thurso
Bayne's the Family Bakers, Lochore, Fife
Stephens Bakery, Dunfermline
T A Francis & Sons, Annan
The Apple Pie Bakery, Lanark
The Bread Guy, Aberdeen
The Breadwinner Bakery, Edinburgh
The Kandy Bar, Saltcoats
The Naked Sourdough, Kelso
The Three Little Bakers, Inverness
Bako Group heads the sponsorship leaderboard for the conference and awards, along with category sponsors American Pan UK, Andrew Ingredients, British Bakels, Carr’s Flour Mills, Dawn Foods, DMD 2000 Ltd, Fleming Howden, Lesaffre, Puratos UK, Renshaw, Rondo and Scotland Food & Drink.