Handmade Speciality Products has invested a six-figure sum in state-of-the-art machinery to increase flapjack production at its Coventry site.
The move comes after the family-owned bakery business secured a match-funded £150k grant and loan from the Duplex Investment Fund, which aims to provide financial support to businesses looking to expand by investing in capital equipment.
Delivered by the Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT), the initiative is funded by Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, Midlands Engine, and Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub. After an initial loan has been made to purchase new machinery, a 40% grant is reimbursed once it is up and running.
“The machinery investment will give us a new level of automation at the front end of our flapjack manufacturing process and is something we have wanted to do for a long time,” commented Handmade Speciality Products director James Raeburn, whose family assumed control of the company in 2009.
“The business is built upon being truly handmade on a scaled-up level and we have grown significantly over the last few years. Flapjacks have been a significant category of growth and to increase our output we have been looking at various options for automation,” he added.
The new machine, which is set to arrive in spring, will be used to sheet flapjack ingredients into a set tray before staff take over by hand. This process will allow the business to increase capacity significantly, which Raeburn noted would be “positive for our long-term growth”.
Founded back in 1987, Handmade Speciality Products has expanded its production to now make millions of sweet treats per year for foodservice customers in schools and universities (under its Simply Scrummy brand), along with retailers and wholesalers across the UK (under its Oh So Scrummy brand). Products include single and multi-pack muffins, cookies, flapjacks, gingerbread, traybakes, and cakes slices, with around 120 full-time staff employed along with up to 50 agency staff.
Raeburn admitted the company would not have been able to facilitate the investment without the loan and grant from the Duplex Investment Fund. “We’re on a journey of growth working closely with the Growth Hub, who have been a massive help,” he said.
Laura Delahunty, business navigator at Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub, revealed they had been working with Handmade Speciality Products on “a number of projects”, with the bakery constantly adding to its product lines including vegan and gluten-free items.
“This addition to their factory will mean they are able to produce higher volumes, increase and upskill staff, and streamline their processes,” she said. “We are here to make businesses in all sectors aware of the support that is available to assist their growth and make it as easy as possible to complete the application forms.”
Last month, Flintshire-based biscuit and cakes supplier The Pudding Company announced it was set to ramp up production after securing a £100k loan from the Wales Flexible Investment Fund to improve facilities at its manufacturing unit.