Free-from specialist Stone Bakery is aiming to double its turnover over the next three years by investing £4m in a factory in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.
The business will refurbish and extend a former Take N’ Bake plant in Crossmaglen where baked goods have been produced for 80 years. Once complete, the newly extended facility will be one of Europe’s biggest gluten-free bakery sites, according to Stone Bakery, and will produce a range of artisan-style vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free flatbreads for local and international markets.
“The McNamee family has been baking in Crossmaglen for over 80 years and I’m incredibly proud to continue that tradition with the opening of the first dedicated free-from manufacturing facility in Northern Ireland,” said Ronan McNamee, owner of Stone Bakery, which was rebranded from BFree Foods NI earlier this year.
“From my experience in the baking industry, consumer trust in the food chain is as much a driver for growth in our business as quality and taste. Delivering on our ambition to be the most trusted gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan bakery brand in the world, our new Stone Bakery manufacturing site will enable us to control the entire chain from seed to shelf and continue to supply the best quality flatbreads in the market with total processing transparency.”
The company has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to establish its presence in the town, with the economic development agency providing £425,000 towards a range of specialist equipment required for the manufacture of the flatbreads as well as the establishment of 20 new jobs.
Brian Dolaghan, executive director of Invest NI, said the organisation was “delighted” to support Stone Bakery’s new business.
“The growth of the free-from food market is continuing, and Stone Bakery has its sights set on growing its share of this market across Great Britain, Europe and beyond including North America,” he added. “With our support, the company is purchasing new equipment to help it streamline its manufacturing processes and create new career opportunities for people in the locality.”
The new operation would contribute almost £1m in additional annual salaries to the Northern Ireland economy once the jobs are in place, Dolaghan noted.