Icelandic fresh foods company Bakkavör Group has snapped up speciality bread producer New Primebake and chilled manufacturer Laurens Patisseries in a major spending spree in the added-value bakery sector in the UK.

Bakkavör, which last year took over fresh produce company Geest, said the acquisitions will make it the UK’s largest supplier of chilled bread products, and strengthen its position in desserts.

Its purchase of Nantwich-based part-baked bread firm New Primebake, announced on April 27, is subject to the approval of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), with a decision expected within eight weeks. The price has not been disclosed.

New Primebake, which employs 340 people, had a £33.4m turnover in the year to December 31, 2005. It manufactures chilled part-baked bread products such as filled garlic baguettes, garlic slices and ciabatta, and supplies the major UK retailers.

Chairman of Bakkavör Ágúst Gudmundsson said the New Primebake acquisition will expand its product portfolio and “will enable us to make full use of existing capacity, allowing us to continue to innovate to fulfil customer demand”.

The acquisition follows a fire which destroyed its Geest garlic bread production site in April 2005. The bakery was one of the UK’s largest production sites for garlic bread, making 7,000 loaves a day.

Meanwhile, Bakkavör said it spent £130m on Laurens Patisseries, in a deal announced on April 30. The acquisition “is a good example of our intention to continue to strengthen our market position in the fresh prepared foods markets”, Mr Gudmundsson said.

Laurens Patisseries is a family business based in Newark, specialising in cream desserts. It employs around 1,200 people and supplies some 130 products, specialising in own-label.

Mr Gudmundsson said the “well-managed” Laurens saw sales grow around 20% in 2005.

Bakkavör said it expected further consolidation in the UK fresh prepared foods sector and said it is committed to playing an active role in this trend.

What is Bakkavör?

Bakkavör Group is based in Reykjavík, Iceland, and specialises in fresh prepared foods and produce. Founded in 1986, it now employs over 14,000 people in the UK, Iceland, France, Belgium, South Africa and China and has a turnover of over £1bn.

The Group’s vision is to be the world’s leading fresh prepared foods and produce provider. Its key market areas are ready meals, pizzas and convenience salads.