Brown & Blond founder George Welton 2

Source: Brown & Blond

Brown & Blond founder George Welton

Brownie specialist Brown & Blond has set its sights on more than tripling production after moving into a new 6,500 sq ft bakery in Morley, near Leeds.

The business produces a range of handmade brownies, blondies and vegan options with 60-plus different topping flavours such as Triple Chocolate, Chocolate Orange, Peanut Butter Cup and Ultimate Vegan Biscoff. It currently supplies around 1.5m units annually to more than 300 retail and foodservice customers across the UK, including the likes of King’s College London.

Having outgrown its previous 1,200 sq ft site in Wortley, Brown & Blond invested northwards of £500k in purchasing and fitting out its new factory, which has the capacity to increase production to over five million units per year.

George Welton, who founded the company in his mum’s kitchen in 2010 and now runs it with his wife Lucy as managing director, revealed it had taken them over 12 months to renovate the new bakery. “We’ve done a lot of it by hand while Lucy was pregnant with our second child, so to finally move in and start producing brownies is amazing,” he said, noting that the business had gone from strength-to-strength in recent years prompting it to invest in bigger premises.

Modern bakery equipment installed at the Morley site includes a £40k Food Tools portioning machine, which was 40% funded by a capital grant from the University of York’s Product, Process and Innovation (PAPI) project. The scheme supports the development of new products or services in Leeds, York, and across North Yorkshire.

Growth opportunities

Brown & Blond’s current turnover of £1.6m is said to have grown ten-fold since 2016, with the aim of breaking through the £2m barrier next year.

It is now working towards Safe And Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) accreditation, which will afford further growth by opening it up to more national and local distribution channels and foodservice providers.

Brown & Blond founder George Welton stands outside their new factory in Morley near Leeds.

Source: Brown & Blond

Brown & Blond founder George Welton stands outside their new factory in Morley near Leeds

“There is a huge opportunity for growth via supplying wholesalers to the hospitality and premium retail market – delis, farm shops, cafes, restaurants – along with bakery tie-ups,” noted Welton. “Another area I see opportunity is in the personalised gift market and corporate gifting. Whilst there is no shortage of online sweet treat retailers, I do believe there is room for us in this market”.

The founder pointed to results from a 2023 Mintel report which stated that a fifth of new launches in the cake and sweet bakes category are premium positioning. “The ‘freshly baked’ proposition has wide appeal to customers and chocolate remains king,” he said. “Consumers are looking for a rare treat that is also an affordable luxury. Brown & Blond is best places to deliver on these trends.”

Meanwhile, Welton admitted there were no present plans of diversifying away from its three core lines of branded and unbranded products. “Simplifying the range maintains our expertise in creating delicious gooey, chocolatey brownies using a traditional tried and tested recipe,” he said.

“We use natural ingredients including real butter and Belgian chocolate. Our brownies are sent out the same day and will keep fresh for 10 days and can be stored in the freezer, making it ideal for delis and restaurants.”

Brown & Blond recently expanded its workforce from eight to 12 staff members with plans to continue creating more jobs as listings improve. “We are currently recruiting up to five additional members of production staff to assist with the festive rush and we hope to keep two on as we look into 2024,” confirmed Welton.