A simple country baker

02 June, 2006
Comment
Page 17 

Tony Phillips

You just cannot believe it! First of all, the dodgy lot who run the country – laughingly known as politicians – tax our pension system into meltdown. Then they impose way-above-inflation wage increases through the minimum wage and, having ruined the pension system, are now proposing we all pay a 3% pension contribution on top of the salaries to pay for their greed and stupidity in doing all the damage in the first place.
I am the first to confess I’m not very bright but does that not mean a 3% hike on our wage costs? And if all staff have to pay 4% of their salary into the pension, will they not be wanting a pay rise to keep up with their rising costs.This year we are finding growth much harder and, with the Bank Holiday over, we have found traditional sales declining. Hot cross bun sales are nothing like they used to be, Christmas cake sales have virtually disappeared and sales of mince pies reduce every year.This brings me on to the subject of worry. Again, I confess I am not very good at it, as I consider it a waste of time and best left to your competitors. Let’s face it: they would probably make a far better job of it.Worry does not make you rich or happy, so why do it? A busy person should not really have time to bother with it. So if you are prone to worry, you would be far better off employing someone to do it for you.Now I know it’s easy to say don’t worry when everything is going right for you, and it’s very difficult not to do if you are in one of those phases in life when everything you touch goes wrong. But do try and look on the bright side; we are in a wonderful industry, where most everyone will try and help if they are asked.Many people who have run into hard times might have been helped if they had swallowed their pride and asked for help. The natural thing is to put a brave face on it. But if only help had been sought out earlier, many a business could have been saved. A few months ago, I mentioned that Lucy, a lovely girl in our bakery, was granted a scholarship by the British Confectionery Association for a week’s training at a member’s bakery, Simmonds of Hatfield. Well, she has had her week’s training and the benefits for both her and our company are great. She learned a lot, had a really great time and returned full of enthusiasm for her craft and a desire to learn more.There were also extra fringe benefits for us; it gave MD Neville a wonderful opportunity to get to know the people running Simmonds better. And, when we had a chance to bid for a gateaux contract, we were able to phone them up and get the best advice from people with great knowledge of the gateaux trade.Mind you, I don’t know what they teach the kids at school these days. An office junior caught me practising putting golf balls in my office and asked me what they were. A week later she caught me putting again and said: “Oh I see you have shot another golf.”Tony Phillips is past president of the NAMB and is (allegedly) retired from running Janes Pantry with 10 shops in Gloucestershire



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