Northern Rye owner Robbie Livingstone  (with Artisan Collective logo) 2100x1400

Source: Northern Rye

Northern Rye owner Robbie Livingstone

Newcastle-based Northern Rye is set for significant expansion having secured a new production facility in North Shields which is more than three times the size of its existing site.

The business – ranked fourth in the Bakers’ Dozen at British Baker’s recent event called The Artisan Collective – is currently in the midst of converting a 2,750 sq ft unit at Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate into a bakery, which will allow it to increase capacity four-fold.

Northern Rye's new production unit at Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate in North Shields  1667x1800

Source: Northern Rye

The new production unit at Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate in North Shields prior to bakery conversion (with owner Livingstone’s baby daughter for scale)

Plans are also underway to open a new shop in North Shields by the end of the summer, adding to its store on Riverside Walk in Newcastle’s Ouseburn district.

“We will hopefully develop a customer base at the coast as well as lunchtime offering to the folks at the trading estate where the new production site is,” said owner Robbie Livingston. “We have also designed the new unit to be an area where we can get back to our baking classes and we are looking into maybe also offering children’s baking classes, but we need to look further into this once we are up and running.”

Livingstone founded Northern Rye in his kitchen in 2017 after graduating from The School of Artisan Food, setting up its current 800 sq ft site in i2 Byker Business Centre a year later. It has since grown to supply its own shop and 25 wholesale customers running independent businesses across the city.

Being “quite a squeeze” for the six bakers involved in production, Livingstone admitted he had been searching for the past three years for a suitable larger location, with many potential units falling through. A necessary power upgrade was also taking longer than expected. “I’m hoping to be energised before Easter,” he added.

Northern Rye's new Guyon setter oven   2100x1400

Source: Northern Rye

New Guyon setter oven

The expansion is being entirely self-funded by the business, confirmed Livingstone, after saving up profits for the past six years. New bakery equipment purchased from Peterborough-based Beam Baking Systems includes a four-deck Guyon setter oven, Panimatic prover retarder cabinets, Eurofours fan ovens, and a Rondo pastry brake, as well as stainless steel racks and trays from Rackmaster in Wickford, Essex.

The new site will feature a climate-controlled pastry room, something Northern Rye was in desperate need of during the summer months. The extra space will also allow it to extend its current range, which includes its bestselling country sourdough, baguettes, almond croissants, cinnamon buns, cruffins and pecan swirls, into the likes of pre-order celebration cakes and tarts, and a wider bread offering.

Selection of pastries sold by Northern Rye  2100x1400

Source: Northern Rye

Selection of pastries including almond croissants and pecan swirls

“We are always developing new pastries but the new space will allow us to offer wholesale pastries to selected retailers,” commented Livingstone. He revealed he has just taken on a new sandwich chef to enhance sandwich, sausage roll, and pie production, with the potential for hires of more bakers, drivers and bakery assistants in the future.

Other bakery businesses set to step up production with moves into larger premises this year include Bolton-based HM Pasties and The Gluten Free Kitchen in North Yorkshire – both have secured loans to cover costs from local authorities or investment funds.