Fletchers awarded for blaze turnaround

Fletchers Group of Bakeries has been awarded a top accolade after turning around the business following a massive blaze at its Sheffield manufacturing site six years ago.

The Wadsley Bridge bakery firm was awarded the Yorkshire Grit accolade at thebusinessdesk.com Yorkshire Business Masters awards in Leeds last week. 

Fletchers’ management team was recognised for its efforts to turn around the profit-losing business when a fire broke out at its manufacturing facility back in 2006. It took 80 firefighters to control the fire, which was believed to have started in a processing plant where a cooler may have exploded, and destroyed 40% of the site's production capacity.

Stephen Holding, managing director at Fletchers Group of Bakeries, said: "This has been a long, hard challenge for the team, with many hurdles to overcome. But we have successfully turned Fletchers from an historic family firm into a 21st century food manufacturer supplying the major multiples.

“All this [has been achieved] within the challenging demands of the food business – price inflation costs have escalated and wheat has increased by 60% with a major impact on margins.”

Last year, Fletchers recorded an operating profit of almost £500,000 on a £93m turnover, in contrast to its 2007/08 financial year when the business made a loss of almost £10m on a £91m turnover. The company has forecast further growth this year.

Holding added: “This award recognises the team’s hard work and we are thrilled to have won. Looking forward to the year ahead, we have exciting plans and great ideas to deliver increased value for the business and continued growth.”

The Group consists of Fletchers Sheffield, La Baguette Dorée in Barnsley, Kara Food Service in Manchester and Grain D’Or in London, employing more than 800 people. The firm produces speciality fresh and frozen bakery products for a number of industries, with 60% of its turnover accumulated from blue chip contracts including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Marks & Spencer. Products include Tesco Finest croissants and M&S focaccia bread.

The company said it has invested more than £3m last year, including in a new plant at its Sheffield site to make English muffins a significant growth area.

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