Wholesale giant Brakes has set its sights on becoming the num-ber one UK bakery foodservice wholesaler, following the launch of its new bakery division next week, which will target the coffee shop and catering sectors.

The division, named La Boulangerie, includes Brakes’ existing bakery products alongside newly sourced products, swelling its number of bakery stock-keeping units (skus) from 190 to over 260, with further quarterly launches planned.

Premium products within the range will be branded La Boulangerie and include bread, organic products, rolls, Viennoiserie, patisserie, muffins and traybakes, and encompass a number of industry firsts, such as ’rosemary treebark’ sand- wich bread.

Half of the products have been sourced from the UK, including Oxfordshire-based artisan bread bakery Brown Sugar, with the rest supplied from France, Sweden and Belgium.

Heading up the launch, Brakes’ bakery specialist Simon Cannell exclusively revealed to British Baker that it planned to improve top-end choice within the market and become a major player in foodservice bakery - a category valued by Brakes at £266m.

"Within that market, there’s one key supplier and they pretty much own the market, alongside a few smaller businesses which are restricted in what they can do," said Cannell.

"Our speciality group portfolio has already got a butcher’s, greengrocer’s and fishmonger’s, and the one that stood out as missing was a traditional bakery business. We wanted to change the perception that Brakes was associated with commo- dity bread."

Country Choice, a bakery business within the Brakes group, will continue to focus on retail food-to-go, he added. "Because we have the Brakes Group behind us, it means we can truly specialise and just focus on bread, Viennoiserie and traditional bakery, as we have savoury pastries within the rest of the business."