Review of the year 2017: January to March

As the year draws to a close, we look back at some of the major stories that have impacted the baking industry in 2017.

The beginning of 2017 saw a number of businesses preparing for the future amid the uncertainty of Brexit, while rising costs in ingredients saw firms fighting to maintain margins.

January 2017

  • French manufacturer Mademoiselle Desserts acquired Ministry of Cake for an undisclosed sum. The Somerset and Devon-based dessert maker became part of the €210m group that supplies retailers such as Marks & Spencer and currently operates two production facilities in the UK. Chris Ormrod, managing director of Ministry of Cake, said the move would enhance its place in the European market.
  • Premier Foods increased the price retailers paid for its products. The manufacturer, which owns Mr Kipling and Cadbury cakes under licence from Mondelez International, announced the price hikes in the wake of the Brexit referendum and fluctuation in the value of sterling.
  • Warburtons revealed plans for a research and development (R&D) centre in Bolton. The bakery submitted a planning application to Bolton Council to add a two-storey 2,278sq m R&D centre to its existing headquarters at Hereford Street.
  • Tesco and Booker announced plans to merge in a £3.7bn deal to create the “UK’s leading food business”. The firms said the deal would enable them to better serve the fast-growing ‘out of home’ food market and help independent retailers, caterers and small businesses by improving choice, price and service.
  • Greggs revealed a manufacturing shake-up following its decision to convert its bakery in Birmingham into a distribution centre. The business also announced it was changing operations at its bakeries at Treforest, Wales and Cambuslang, near Glasgow.

February 2017

  • Bakers hit out at a report naming businesses that had underpaid staff. The bakers said that it was “misleading” and branded some “honest people” as criminals. A total of 359 employers were named by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) for underpaying their workers the national minimum or living wage.
  • Two Magpies Bakery hit the national press after advertising sausage rolls for £8.17 – a 177% mark-up on the usual £2.95 price tag. The price hike was to highlight the business rates threat.
  • Aryzta announced a management shake-up that saw chief executive Owen Killian and other senior figures leave the bakery business.
  • Greggs launched its first ‘healthy shop’ at New Cross hospital, Wolverhampton, to focus on soups and salads rather than the traditional Greggs products. The launch was designed to meet NHS England’s latest targets on food sold in hospitals. But sausage rolls, doughnuts and bacon sandwiches are also available at the outlet.

March 2017

  • Park Cakes was acquired in a management buy-out from private-equity firm Vision Capital. Park Cakes said the sale would not affect its manufacturing sites or current workplace but would allow the team to continue its growth and build on the success.
  • WC Rowe was acquired by investment firm Iberia Industry Capital (IIC). The Cornish bakery’s senior management team remained in place to work with the new owner.
  • CSM Bakery Solutions turnaround its previous decision to close its Ashington-based Kate’s Cakes site, keeping it open to focus on ‘free-from’. The move saved around 350 jobs.
  • A baker revealed he had spent £1,500 on tattoos of pastries on his arm. Michael Lambert had his arm decorated with pink macarons, Battenburg cake, a chocolate tart, a soufflé and a vanilla slice.

Keep reading BritishBaker.com and our email newsletters for further round-ups of key events from 2017, including bread dominating the list of UK’s most-shopped brands and Patisserie Valerie announcing a partnership with Sainsbury’s.

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