MAYThe National Association of Master Bakers (NA) swore in its 111th president, Colin Fulcher, at its annual conference in Harrogate. He received his chain of office from outgoing president Tony Phillips. New president-elect Shirley Harrison was also installed as the NA’s first lady president elect. Waitrose MD Steven Eson announced the retailer was overhauling its bakery department “to dominate on quality”. It was looking at layout, merchandising and signage. Speciality bread and patisserie were areas of key importance, he said. Northern Irish plant baker Irwin’s rolled out a “free from nuts” logo on its products after banning nuts from its factory. The baker said it was now one of only three nut-free plant bakeries in the UK, and the only one in Northern Ireland.Catering giant Compass relaunched its Tastte! sandwich range using healthy ingredients such as reduced-salt bacon. It also introduced a heathy-eating sub-brand LS2GO (Life-style to Go) with low-carbohydrate options, created in partnership with ingredients supplier Bakels.Harvestime (2005) was formed in a management buy-out of former New Rathbones bakeries in Walsall, Leicester and Peterborough. The new management team included MD John Bridson and sales director Phil Taylor. Working capital for the deal was provided by specialist miller Whitworth Bros and its chairman Martin George.Rank Hovis said it was to stop production at its Hull mill, following a strategic review. The mill, Rank’s oldest dating back to 1891, closed in December.David Powell Bakeries was acquired by Rich Products UK, a subsidiary of the US food manufacturer. Rich’s president George Thomopoulos said buying the £11m turnover business would enable Rich to diversify into new areas and give it access to manufacturing facilities in the UK. Country Style Foods faced a third strike at its Stockton plant as employees protested over terms and conditions. The industrial action was eventually put on hold after management came back with a new offer. Surrey retail bakery Coughlans beat off competition from Greggs to be named Baker Sandwich Maker of the Year at the Sandwich retail Multiple of the Year Awards (Sammies). Bakers Oven, Greggs, and Scottish chain Mathiesons were all shortlisted for the award, which looks at presentation, atmosphere and range.