Elisabeth the Chef losses halved after restructure

Losses at own-label bakery supplier Elisabeth the Chef have fallen from £13.9m to £7.5m in its first accounts filed under new ownership.

The business, formerly known as Senoble UK, was acquired by Country Style Foods subsidiary Chilled Bakery Products last November. Therefore, only two months of the accounts filed relate to the period following the acquisition.

Operating from sites in in Leamington Spa and Worcester, Elisabeth the Chef produces chilled desserts, cream cakes and hot puddings for supermarkets.

The business required “immediate intervention” at the time of the acquisition, according to the firm’s annual report for the year to 31 December 2017, after become heavily loss-making.

“Significant restructure and reorganisation has taken place in the business since the acquisition,” stated the report. “The balance sheet has been considerably strengthened. The cost base overheads structure and operational performance have all been completely reset.”

The company added that a programme of significant change was ongoing, and that the financial benefits were now being seen. Although annual turnover was down 4.5% to £59.7m, a run of positive EBITDA had been achieved without any cash or capital injection.

The directors said this had saved 750 endangered jobs at the business, adding that previous large investments in the firm meant it benefited from a significant assets base.

“Its people have considerable experience and skills relating to the categories in which it operates,” stated the report. “These assets will be utilised to continue to improve efficiency, create differentiation and grow sales.”

Elisabeth the Chef was started as a cake shop in Leamington Spa in 1928. It opened its first manufacturing plant and began to supply top-tier retailers such as Harrods and Fortnum & Mason. It was acquired by United Biscuits in 1979, and was later sold on.

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