Big Interview – Graeme Williams

Graeme Williams, CCMO UK of Baker & Baker, discusses the importance of clear strategies to meet demands for sustainability and remain competitive 

Could you tell us about your professional journey to becoming CCMO UK of Baker & Baker?

Having joined Princes Foods in 2011, I worked through the business and in 2013, I moved into my first key National Account Manager role responsible for the ‘value retailers’ and ultimately Tesco; I continued to work on the Tesco account for six years and was rewarded as a Senior NAM role in 2015. During my eight years at Princes, I gained a deep understanding of the customer base as well forging relationships that have transferred over to my time in bakery.

I joined CSM Bakery Solutions (now B&B) in 2019 as a National Account Manager responsible again for Tesco. Following the CSM business separation from the ingredients category and creation of Baker & Baker in 2021, I was promoted to Business Unit Director Key Accounts. In 2022, I moved into the role of Senior Sales Director UK, which gave me the opportunity to manage the full UK portfolio and really put my stamp on the commercial strategy.

What have been the standout moments for you since you started working in the industry?

At Baker & Baker, one of our values is ‘Together’ and I believe during my time, we have evolved our approach to working with our customer partners. We have become more collaborative and focussed to ensure that the customer is at the heart of our decision making. This has helped us to navigate through industry wide challenges such as the pandemic & cost inflation.

How do you think bakery products manufacturers can ensure continuous innovation in their offerings, especially when offering such a broad range of products?

Manufacturers must truly understand the market and their core categories, in order to develop products and ideas for customers that will genuinely move the needle.

We are also able to regularly develop a suite of NPD possibilities by working in a truly collaborative manner with our key customers.

It is essential to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the independent & artisanal bakeries as well as other markets & countries. Combining market trends and category data will help understand consumers’ needs and opportunities – and in turn helps us to build a strong idea of what will and won’t work when making strategic decisions.

How can bakery product manufacturers address sustainability within their supply chain and manufacturing processes?

It’s critical for bakery manufacturers to have a clear strategy and a deep understanding of the sustainability topics that are most relevant to them, as well as taking into account the fast-changing regulatory landscape around sustainability.

Once the strategic groundwork has been laid, bakery businesses can then consider what steps to take. For many, addressing carbon emissions within manufacturing processes will be a priority or transitioning to more sustainable ingredients.

Having a better understanding of global supply chains is now a requirement for larger manufacturers. We work with SEDEX who support us with our supply chain due diligence, although this is a complex topic encompassing the full suite of ESG issues.

What sustainable practices and strategies has Baker & Baker successfully implemented?

We have recently reviewed and updated our overarching ESG strategy, and will be publishing this later in the year. Our climate strategy is a key focus for us, and we have set a net zero target year of 2040 with interim targets for 2030, which are now just six years away. We are beginning to assess decarbonisation projects to begin making cuts to our emissions.

We currently work with FareShare in the UK to redistribute food waste with their community partners, and we are financially supporting a water stewardship project in conjunction with WRAP in the East of England to improve water quality and enhance biodiversity.

What do you consider Baker & Baker’s key competitive advantages in the bakery products industry, and how does the company leverage these to stay ahead of its competitors?

Baker & Baker has grown its market share and expertise across a select group of American Sweet Bakery categories – muffins, doughnuts and cookies – which has helped the business secure stable and significant distribution with the largest retail and Foodservice chains across the UK and wider European landscape.

We also operate an exclusive licensing partnership with Mondelēz within fresh bakery across their Cadbury, Milka and Oreo brands that offers us a unique point-of-difference for our customers.

We have also grown our category insight and consumer intelligence capabilities internally, enabling us to offer genuine value and expertise to customers across the sweet bakery market.

How is Baker & Baker incorporating technology and digital solutions to enhance production efficiency, product quality, and customer service?

The business has invested significantly in its core manufacturing capabilities, including extensive automation at our Bradford site for the manufacture of cornflake clusters and mini bites, and packing.

At the Wirral, we have recently finalised the installation of a new £2.9m cookie line to increase capacity and improve output and quality.

We have also made a step change with our digital capabilities to effectively manage the fast-moving sustainability reporting landscape; we have acquired new digital platforms and licences, particularly in preparation for CSRD reporting in 2026.

How does Baker & Baker approach market expansion in the diverse regions it serves, such as Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa?

Our business is split almost fifty-fifty, with my counterpart Elizabeth Langley-Jones, CCMO EMEA, overseeing all business beyond the UK. We have an extremely well-established business in the core European territories. Germany is our second largest market after the UK, and we have strong distribution throughout Europe including France, Benelux and Iberia, supported by our twelve regional manufacturing facilities.

Our business in EMEA covers four key distribution channels – Retail, Foodservice, the Traditional or ‘artisan’ bakeries and Wholesaler.

In addition, our growth strategy includes building sales throughout relevant eastern European markets – and to that end we opened an office in Poland two years ago to facilitate this – capitalising on our expertise with the larger retailers and foodservice operators in order to further develop our business in the region.

Further afield, we have opened an office in the UAE and signed distribution agreements with key partners in the region. We are targeting the larger quick-service chains that already have an established presence in the region, along with customers we already work with in other international markets.

Are there specific strategies tailored for each region?

Yes, and we tailor our approach based on specific regional market trends and the key players in those territories. Large retailers already have established strategies and distribution throughout Europe and beyond – growing volume with those key accounts is a strategic priority for us.

In the Middle East, however, we must build relationships with new retail partners over time, whilst targeting a diversified and healthy foodservice market to establish our position in the region.

What are your predictions for how the international bakery industry will develop over the next 5 years or so?

Following the cost-of-living crisis triggered by dramatic inflation, we are now beginning to see a tentative return to premiumisation and a greater willingness to trial new concepts.

If a sustained economic recovery takes hold, this should deliver a significant boost to the international bakery market, with a wealth of innovation and creativity likely to follow; we are ideally placed to support our trade partners across all channels in order to further develop the potential in this exciting bakery world of ours.

Read more latest industry news and developments in our free to download magazine.

Never miss a story… Follow us on:
International Bakery

Media contact

Joseph Clarke
Editor, International Bakery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

Subscribe to our newsletter

Don't miss new updates on your email
Scroll to Top