The bakery landscape continued to change in 2023 with a series of acquisitions as businesses looked to secure a larger slice of the market.

Here, British Baker looks at some of the biggest deals of 2023 and what they meant for the businesses involved:

Snowball meringue treats in a Lees branded mug

Source: Lees Foods

Snowball effect for Finsbury Food Group

Finsbury Food Group kicked off 2023 by acquiring Scottish snowballs, meringues, and teacakes supplier Lees Food for £5.7m.

The move was in line with Finsbury’s ambitions to diversify its product capability into areas with high growth potential.

The Coatbridge-based manufacturer has a “well-established position in the UK meringue category and strong relationships across a high quality and diverse customer base”, Finsbury CEO John Duffy said at the time of the deal.

Finsbury Food Group x Thorntons Easter Bites

Source: Finsbury Food Group

Finsbury vies for growth with takeover offer of its own

Finsbury – which manufactures a diverse portfolio of cakes, bread, and snack products for the major multiples and foodservice channel – went on to approve its own takeover offer in September 2023. The £143m bid was placed by Isle of Man-based asset management firm DBay Advisors which highlighted its intentions to turn the AIM-listed bakery manufacturer back into a private company.

DBay said the public listing and the current turbulence in quoted equity markets ‘substantially inhibit its ability to pursue these growth opportunities, in particular acquisitions’.

Peter Baker, non-executive chairman of Finsbury, said at the time that it needs to pursue “strategic, transformational M&A to achieve the scale required to be successful in an increasingly competitive and demanding marketplace”, adding that he believes it will “thrive” under DBay’s stewardship.

Proper Cornish Lamb & Mint Pasty on a plate with vegetables at the side

Source: Proper Cornish

Proper Cornish embraces the French way

Cornwall-based pasties and pastries maker Proper Cornish was purchased by French desserts and snacks supplier Groupe Boncolac early in 2023.

Under its new parent company, Proper Cornish hopes to expand into other markets including Europe. The existing senior management team remained in place at Proper Cornish, led by managing director Chris Pauling who helped found the company in 1988.

Operating from a newly refurbished 58,000 sq ft bakery in Bodmin, the business supplies branded and own-label products to a major retailer, independent retailers, specialist pasty shops, the education sector, sporting stadia, major contract caterers and wholesalers.

Groupe Boncolac rounded off the year with a rebrand to Onoré Food Group and added Bristol-based cake supplier Cakesmiths to its portfolio.  

Renshaw product line-up in the new packaging

Source: Renshaw

British Bakels secures future of Renshaw

Former Renshaw owner Real Good Food had a tough year in 2023 – slashing its workforce by more than 100, selling Rainbow Dust Colours to European Fermentation Products, and finally calling in administrators earlier in December following a strategic review.

As the latter happened, it was revealed that British Bakels had snapped up the icings and marzipan business JF Renshaw Ltd with all employees at the Liverpool-based firm transferring to Bakels. The deal was described as having secured the future of Renshaw.

British Bakels managing director James Cawthorne said the firm was looking forward to working with its new colleagues to develop the concept of ‘Renshaw by Bakels’, giving a taste of things to come.

Saag Curry pie on a plate next to a box of the pies

Source: Clive’s Purely Plants

VFC seals the deal for Clive’s Purely Plants

Vegan bakery specialist Clive’s Purely Plants was bought by VFC Foods in October in a move which saw the new owner secure its first primary manufacturing site – Clive’s production facility in Dartmouth.

The acquisition meant the British vegan food firm VFC (which stands for Vegan Fried Chick*n) was positioned as a “formidable player” in the market, particularly as it rescued Meatless Farm from administration just a few months prior.

Clive’s supplies a range of plant-based pies, savoury tarts, quiches, and nut roasts to independent businesses, wholesalers, and major retailers including Waitrose, Asda, Ocado, and Abel & Cole.

The Soho Sandwich Company managing director Daniel Silverston, Around Noon Foods CEO Gareth Chambers, and Around Noon Chairman Howard Farquhar, announce the deal in London.  2100x1400

Source: Around Noon

(L-R) The Soho Sandwich Company managing director Daniel Silverston, Around Noon Foods CEO Gareth Chambers, and Around Noon Chairman Howard Farquhar, announce the acquisition deal in London.

Around Noon works around the clock

Food to go manufacturer Around Noon Foods had a very busy 2023 – securing a M&S own label sandwich deal, investing in its sixth UK manufacturing site, and acquiring The Soho Sandwich Company.

The latter saw the creation of enlarged food to go firm with 800 employees and annual revenue of £80m. The Soho Sandwich Company – which continues to operate under its own brand – brought more than 300 staff to the new Around Noon Group, as well as a state-of-the-art production facility in North London, and a range of new blue-chip clients. It supplies around 15 million sandwiches per year to retailers nationwide.

Around Noon Foods CEO Gareth Chambers said the acquisition cemented the group’s position as a leading national supplier of premium food to go products.