Decade’s use of CyBake helps Thomsons’ serve up famous Geordie fare

Thomsons Bakery was established in 1956 and is based in Westerhope Village, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The business has passed down two generations and has been run by husband and wife team Ian and Jan Thomson since 1979.

“At the end of each day, when we generate our invoices, there’s a transfer done across into Sage from CyBake”

Primarily a wholesale operation, the company employs 15 full-time staff and is best known for its speciality breads such as Newcastle Broon Ale Bread, Genuine Geordie Stotties (a local oven bottom bread), sunflower and lemon bread and Italian Stonecuts. Its famous fare has earned the Thomsons numerous TV appearances on programmes like Rhodes Around Britain and Ready Steady Cook.

Thomsons has been using RedBlack Software’s CyBake bakery management solution for over a decade. Looking back on why the firm needed the system in the first place, Jan Thomson says: “It was just far too much to do manually because not only does CyBake run the baking side of the business, at the same time it generates invoices and it helps my accounts side as well.”

CyBake is used in conjunction with Sage Line 50 accounting software. “At the end of each day, when we generate our invoices, there’s a transfer done across into Sage from CyBake,” she explains.

When asked which elements of CyBake are the most important to her business, Jan Thomson says: “All of it. If my husband says to me: ‘Tell me how much we have spent on flour over the last six months’, I can tell him in two minutes, if not less. Whereas if he’d asked me that when we had a paper system I would have groaned and it would have probably taken an hour to do, if not longer. Anybody who is still using pencil and paper to do anything bakery-wise is on a hiding to nothing now because you have got to be current; you’ve got to be able to keep up with things. If you get a customer that needs electronic data or whatever, you’ve got to be able to do it.

“So it is stuff like that. Instant access to information is fantastic. If prices change, we can put them straight in and change them in the CyBake program and so we’re always up-to-date with costings which is very important, especially now with ingredient prices going through the roof. And also we can keep tabs on our customers; what they’re buying, whether they’re paying and so on. So it really is all of it. There’s not one thing stands alone as the most important aspect of CyBake because it all just integrates and works together within our business.”

“Resale and wholesale is the way forward for our company. CyBake has enabled us to generate specific price lists and specification sheets for potential and existing customers.”

RedBlack Software collaborates closely with its customers and custom-fits CyBake to their individual needs. This is a two-way process. CyBake software architect Andrew Throup has worked the night shift alongside Thomson’s staff on a number of occasions to try out his software solutions on the shop floor. Some functions in today’s latest CyBake 3 version were developed in conjunction with the bakery.

Jan Thomson explains: “We start with basic ingredients and we need recipes for that. The product’s made, it either goes into our shop or it goes out to customers, so RedBlack did quite a lot of work with us in-house to get the program that they wanted, but also it suited us down to the ground because it was exactly what we were doing. So, really, it was more a case of they worked with us for mutual benefit.”

Jan’s husband, Ian Thomson, adds: “Each month, we see more of our customers – and ourselves – using email to order and communicate. One of our larger customers uses an EDI system for payment, and RedBlack created a facility in CyBake so we could do this.”

An EDI interface is now available to all CyBake customers. Ian Thomson highlights further important features that have also proved to be essentials for other CyBake users.

CyBake architect Andrew Throup (left) gets stuck in on the night shift with Ian Thomson (right)

CyBake architect Andrew Throup (left) gets stuck in on the night shift with Ian Thomson (right)

“Working closely with RedBlack, the system has allowed us to have and record complete traceability of ingredients and products, most of which are ordered by email via CyBake, and can show us how much the order is worth and the total weight,” he says. “CyBake also helps us with the control of processes, an area that bakers traditionally changed to suit themselves or the production run then invariably did not record or mention the changes to management. Now the management team is aware of the changes and can control them.”

Ian Thomson is an expert on standards and regulatory compliance issues in the industry. He explains that CyBake helped his bakery when it came to getting Safe And Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) accreditation and how the system helps meet customer specifications on allergens and ingredients.

He says: “In the baking process, every stage from receiving goods to customer service relies on each stage delivering the right product to the next stage. Our CyBake software is developed in a similar way. We have gained SALSA accreditation and received four stars for the ‘Scores on the Doors’ scheme. There is no doubt that CyBake played a large part in making the whole process easy and realistic by allowing the assessors easy access to the information required.

“Resale and wholesale is the way forward for our company. CyBake has enabled us to generate specific price lists and specification sheets for potential and existing customers. This is essential information for customers’ requiring a breakdown of ingredients or allergens. It is becoming more common for pressure to be put on some of our present customers to provide product information. Through CyBake, we can help and provide a fuller customer service to secure our business with them.”

Thomsons Bakery: http://www.geordiebakers.co.uk