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An overall winner in the category was this year selected from seven regional finalists

Winner: Warrens Bakery (Also South West winner)

Established in 1860, Warrens describes itself as the oldest Cornish pasty maker still using traditional hand-crimping methods. But virtually everything else at the company has changed.

The business has grown by around 10% this year and has been expanding its estate of company-owned shops at a rate of knots. It has also opted for a franchise model that is proving a big success, with more than 40 franchised sites scheduled to be trading by the end of this year. And growth hasn’t been confined to retail: following a 10-year partnership with Derriford Hospital trust in Devon, the business has taken over the contract for three more catering facilities on site.

Marketing has also played a big role in Warrens’ success, including an 80 Days Around The World campaign in the spring and the launch of an online game this summer.

Operating out of two bakeries, in St Just and Plymouth, some of Warrens’ master bakers have been with the business for over 50 years, while operational director Jason Jobling has learned the trade and grown up with the company since the age of 14.

As well as pasties, the business makes a wide range of savouries and sweet baked goods including scones, cakes and sandwiches.

The Craft Bakery Business Awards finalists

Paul Rhodes Bakery (South East winner)

This 15-year-old bakery supplies businesses in and around London. Employing more than 110 people, its range includes breads, pastries and Viennoiserie. The business is craft-led, with handmade products requiring a good level of skill from the bakers. Founder Paul Rhodes is the 2018 Baker of the Year (see p54).

Genesis Crafty (Northern Ireland winner)

This large wholesale bakery produces wheaten and soda breads, pancakes, scones, baps, rolls and cakes. Bread products are made in small batches, many kneaded by hand. Founded 50 years ago, it has grown considerably, launching over 40 new cake lines in the past year alone, mainly within the M&S brand.

Stephens (Scotland winner)

This firm has grown from a traditional Dunfermline family bakery to a business with sales of over £12m. Comprising 14 retail shops, six snack delivery vehicles and partnerships with the Co-op, Scotmid, McColl’s and independent retailers, its aim is to be the number one choice for on-the-go bakery products.

Just Desserts (North winner)

This firm started life in the historic Salts Mill in Saltaire, West Yorks in 1985. Its 25 staff make desserts and patisserie, which it supplies direct to cafés, pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions. It supplies more than 130 products, over 75% scratch-made, including gateaux, tarts, pastries and teacakes.

Clam’s Handmade Cakes (Wales winner)

Clam’s began in 1981 in Abergavenny and moved to a bakery in Ebbw Vale in 2014. The success of its award-winning Sticky Almond Cake and Whisky Fruit Cake spurred the business to expand, and NPD for 2018 includes sugar-free muffins.

Flower & White (Midlands winner)

Brian Crowther started his business from home in 2009 and has since built up an award-winning meringue and gluten-free muffin manufacturing operation in Telford, supplying wholesale, retail and foodservice. His 8,000sq ft factory is SALSA accredited and employs around 40 people.