Welcoming the deal, UK MD Peter Maycock said: “All stakeholders, specifically our employees, customers and suppliers can take comfort from the fact the bakery now has the backing of the international Maple Leaf Foods organisation. We look forward to building the Walsall bakery back to a successful growth business with a long-term future.”
Deputy MD Guy Hall told British Baker the asset purchase will allow the UK business to diversify its range. Maple Leaf Bakery, part of Canada’s largest food processing company Maple Leaf Foods, is currently best known for producing New York Bagel Company-branded bagels. It has three existing sites in the UK.
Mr Hall commented: “We are primarily bagel bakers in this country. This acquisition is a strategic fit, and sits well with our ambition to be a broader supplier in the UK.”
He emphasised the company will continue to produce sliced bread at the Walsall bakery. It plans to produce more premium sliced bread, and the Harvestime brand will continue to be used “in some capacity.”
The 248 Harvestime employees at the site have been taken on in the deal, Mr Hall said.
The Walsall bakery sale to Maple Leaf, announced on Friday, March 24, comes after only a week of talks with administrators, Guy Hall revealed. He commented: “We had looked at the business several months ago, but its business model is significantly different now. At the time it had a large direct- to-store delivery fleet and a less favourable product mix.”
Mr Hall indicated that Maple Leaf Bakery UK plans to consider further opportunities for acquisition in the UK as they arise.
Maple Leaf Bakery UK is based in South Yorkshire and makes bagels at its Rotherham bakery, pretzels at The Original Pretzel Co in Southend and other speciality bakery products in Cumbria.
Harvestime (2005), formerly part of New Rathbones, had been in administration since November 2005, and previously in April 2005.
John Kelly, joint administrator from Begbies Traynor said: “I am confident that the right purchaser has bought the business and the future of bread production in Walsall has been secured.”
Analyst David Lang commented: “One would not imagine this will lead to pricing instability. It will fill a vacuum for private label.”