Upper Crust operator SSP to launch Paul Hollywood bakery concept

Starbucks and Upper Crust operator SSP has secured an agreement with Paul Hollywood to open a new bakery concept called Knead.

The "upmarket bakery concept" will open next year and will sell "artisan sandwiches, cakes and pastries" - including a sausage roll that will be sold by the inch.

The news was revealed in the business’ results for the year ended 30 September 2016, with it reporting a 3% increase in overall like-for-like sales to £1,990.3m, with operating profit up 29.6% year on year to £119.5m.

SSP said it enjoyed a strong start to the year, with like-for-like sales up 3.3% in the first half, but like-for-likes were weaker in the second half.

Sales in the air sector grew more strongly than in rail, the business reported, driven by a continued increase in passenger numbers throughout the year.

But, following the terrorist incidents in France and Belgium in the first half of the year, trading across SSP’s UK and Continental European rail operations had been “slightly softer”, particularly in major capital cities.

Revenue in its UK operations rose 2.9% on a constant currency basis, comprising like-for-like growth of 3.1% and net contract losses of 0.5%.

Like-for-like growth was particularly strong in the air sector, driven by increasing UK airport passenger numbers and increased spend per passenger. The UK rail sector saw weaker trading, it reported, with lower passenger numbers and dwell times, notably in London stations, and particularly following the Paris attacks in mid-November.

Knead by Paul Hollywood concept

Looking ahead in the UK, the business said it had secured an agreement with Paul Hollywood to open a new bakery concept in the UK rail business.

"We are working in partnership with Paul to create an upmarket bakery concept called Knead," a spokesperson for SSP told British Baker. "It will serve artisan sandwiches, cakes and pastries, and Paul’s specially-developed sausage roll, sold by the inch."

"Paul’s heritage as an artisan baker is integral to the brand and he has been involved in every stage of development," added the business.

SSP said Hollywood had worked with its team to create a simple menu using good-quality ingredients, while the brand has been designed to meet the needs of consumers in travel settings.

"We are talking to our clients in the airport and rail sectors about the concept," said the spokesperson. "We would envisage opening the first Knead by Paul Hollywood in 2017 in a major rail site."

SSP has also agreed a deal with Itsu, and is set to open its first site at a London mainline railway station during the next year.

The company said its new financial year had started in line with expectations and that its pipeline of new contracts was encouraging.

“Looking forward to 2017, with tough like-for-like sales comparatives in the first half of the year and the current level of general economic uncertainty, we anticipate slightly lower like-for-like revenue growth next year,” it stated. “However, the significant structural growth opportunities and our programme to deliver operational improvements, leave us well placed to continue to deliver both for our customers and our shareholders.”

Hollywood and Premier Foods 

Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods this year rolled out sweet and savoury baking mixes developed with Hollywood. The range comprises 12 “premium, artisanal” mixes, including Tomato & Thyme Bloomer and Garlic & Herb Tear’n’Share (both RSP: £2.09), while the sweet mixes include Belgian Chocolate Muffin and Bran & Coconut Flapjack (both RSP: £2.09).

Premier said it was approached by Hollywood with the idea of helping consumers bake artisanal products at home. He worked with the business to develop the recipes.

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