Karen Dear, Chief Executive of the Craft Bakers Association tells Editor Caitlin Gittins about aims, challenges and how the CBA supports its members
At the successful return of the Craft Bakers Association’s (CBA) Business Day in June 2023, Editor Caitlin Gittins was given a glimpse of some of the priorities at the top of the bakery industry’s agenda – against a backdrop of how the CBA can help. What are consumers’ attitudes to craft bakeries? How can the media help with promoting your business? What are the opportunities? And more were all covered at the 2023 Business Day. Providing bakers with ideas to take forward is part and parcel of what the CBA does, Karen says in this exclusively BIg Interview.
Representing a cohort of craft bakeries across the UK, the association exists to support bakeries and provide clarity on issues such as high energy costs, business rates and the apprenticeships scheme – challenges with attracting new talent and the next generation to address labour shortages and similar concerns.
Maintaining regular communication with its members through in-person events such as the annual Business Day and online features such as sending out surveys and emails to keep bakers updated, the continued, unwavering support of the Craft Bakers Association has shown that although times can be tough for bakers, the resilient spirit seen will continue to win out.
Could you please introduce yourself and what you do?
I’m Karen Dear and I’m the Chief Executive of the Craft Bakers Association (CBA). I’ve been fortunate enough to work for the CBA for 23 years, and prior to my appointment as Chief Executive Officer, I’ve held a variety of positions in the organisation, which has given me a fantastic insight into the craft bakery industry and the work of our members and the challenges they faced.
What are your main focuses for the association going forward?
I’m responsible for driving further growth and expansion of the CBA and the services it offers to its members. It is an exciting time for the CBA and I’m looking forward to taking on this challenge. My new role will enable me to focus on growing the association whilst also ensuring that CBA membership continues to be valuable to all our members and to our industry supporters.
How has your experience working in the bakery industry informed your new role as Chief Executive?
Throughout my career at the CBA, I have had the pleasure of working with many leaders in our industry and a host of experts that you come across in your career – from health and safety, food safety, legal, technical, HR, to name a few. These connections and the experience I’ve gained over the past two decades are an integral part of my role. They enable me and the CBA to provide our members with the best business advice possible and work with the government and relevant organisations to secure the future of this sector.
What are some of the challenges your members are facing currently?
For businesses, big and small, energy costs are at the top of our agenda. There is unfortunately a lack of clarity from the UK government on who will benefit from the support package, how they can access the support package and whether a business is eligible…
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