Cooplands (Doncaster) is aiming to double in size over the next five years under new chairman Chris Peck.
Peck, who joined the company in the summer, is planning to buy "one or two" bakery chains operating up to 40 shops. The Doncaster-based business, not to be confused with Coopland & Son (Scarborough), will also be expanded organically by around six outlets a year from its current tally of 75 outlets, he said.
Peck told British Baker: "Cooplands is an asset-wealthy company, with £1m invested in the last two-and-a-half years in plant at its central bakery. We need to leverage that now, extending through the white space in our trading area and looking at opportunities to buy adjacent businesses."
Bakery chains in areas including Derby and Leicester, as well as north, east, and west Yorkshire would make attractive potential purchases, he said. "The recession will shake out one or two businesses, as the last recession did. I get corporate recovery people on the phone all the time."
Cooplands will also roll out one ’Bap Van’ food-to-go delivery van a month over the next year, servicing industrial estates and retail parks. The firm already operates 10 of the £35,000 vans.
Shrewd property investments over the years by family owner David Jenkinson meant that the market value of the estate was actually £5m-£6m more than was stated on the balance sheet, with 60% of the shops freehold, Peck said. He explained that he was recruited to Cooplands by Jenkinson, aged 80 plus, and his daughter Anne Wagstaff.
"David had the vision to say ‘I cannot put the energy into this any more. I need somebody with complementary skills to take it on’," he added.
Wagstaff remains with Cooplands in a communications role and Jenkinson is now honorary president still touring the bakery on a daily basis.
Peck worked in the private equity sector before joining Cooplands, on projects such as the turnaround and then sale of the "Foo Go" chilled food business to Greencore.