Geary’s has blossomed over its 113-year lifespan, from a village bakery on the side of a family home to producing more than one million loaves and rolls a week for supermarkets and sandwich makers.
Geary’s Bakery was born in 1906 on the side of Charles Geary’s family home in Ratby, Leicestershire. Bread was created in the 400 sq ft bakery, which comprised an oven, a mixer and two tables, as well as a stable door for loading the freshly baked loaves onto the awaiting horse and cart for local delivery.
Second-generation Sidney came on board in 1925, followed by his son Charles in the early 1960s. As the generations of bakers grew, so did the bakery itself, with more buildings added to the site.
“We were always a wholesale bakery – it was all about getting our products into as many outlets as possible,” says fourth-generation baker and managing director Jason Geary.
A pivotal point was reached in the mid-’80s after Jason joined the fold, after leaving school.
“My father, brother Darren and I, decided to build a new bakery on the existing site. This was our biggest investment to date, allowing us to put a rolls line in and supply superstores,” he says.
Things weren’t always smooth sailing, though, thanks to a severe hike in interest rates in the later part of the decade. “This led to a change in thought process about how the business was run,” he adds.
Action was needed to turn things around. Jason, alongside long-serving baker Steve Gurney and Tony Marriott, decided to focus on large customers, with Aldi coming on board in 2002.
“Around this time we went from a loss-making business, to breaking even and then making profit,” says Jason.
But Geary’s Ratby site struggled to keep pace with Aldi’s rapid UK growth. A new location was found in Barrow-upon-Soar, with the proceeds from the Ratby sale clearing its debt.
“This was our defining moment,” says Jason. “It enabled us to start afresh.”
Another major milestone in 2017 saw Geary’s invest £15m in a purpose-built, 61,000 sq ft bakery in Glenfield. It houses the bread lines, while the Barrow units handle rolls, morning goods and speciality items such as long fermentation products.
The latter form a significant part of Geary’s plans moving forward, as does a Geary’s branded range called Jason’s Baked with Love, set to launch in a major supermarket in late January.
Rounding out the decade for Geary’s, Aimia Food founders, the Unsworth family, bought a majority stake in the business. “The investment will enable our future plans to become reality and we are excited about this next chapter,” he adds.
1906: Geary’s Bakery is set up by Charles Geary at his family home
1925: Second-generation Sidney Geary joins the family firm
1962: Sidney’s son Charles comes on board
1985: The biggest investment to date sees a new rolls bakery added to the Ratby site
1999: Sidney Geary passes away
2002: Geary’s begins supplying to Aldi stores in the UK
2010: The original Ratby site is sold and production is moved to Barrow-upon-Soar
2017: A 61,000 sq ft site is opened in Glenfield
2019: Aimia Food founders buy a majority stake in the business and Rob Unsworth (pictured above with Jason Geary) becomes chairman
1989: (L-r) Darren, Charles, Sidney and Jason Geary
Circa 1968: Geary’s growing team in its new dispatch department
1906: The original bakery and shop, with the horse and cart