Review of the Year 2018: October to December

With 2019 fast approaching, we cast our eye over some of the bakery stories that have hit the headlines over the past 12 months.

October

  • Patisserie Holdings almost collapsed following discovery of a black hole in its finances. Its chief financial officer Chris Marsh was arrested and bailed, and later resigned, while chief executive Paul May stepped down. Business was rescued by £15.7m share offer and loan from chairman Luke Johnson.
  • Hovis sold two of its flour mills at Selby and Manchester to Whitworth Bros and closed its Southampton mill to focus on its core baking business. The 34 staff at Manchester and 50 at Selby transferred to Whitworth’s, as did a small number of staff in commercial and technical roles. Hovis said the Southampton mill had been significantly loss-making.
  • Almost 360 bakery jobs came under threat at Asda as part of plan to make 2,500 roles ar retailer redundant.
  • Warrens Bakery acquired three of its franchised sites to re-open them as company-managed stores. It also announced that it was continuing its franchise roll-out by opening a café at Bristol Airport and two company-owned cafés at Musgrove Hospital, Taunton.

 

November

  • Allied Bakeries owner ABF said the bakery business had made “unacceptable” losses in its annual results for the year to 15 September 2018.
  • Pure Grain Bread founder Robert Sak partnered with TV Dragon Deborah Meaden during an appearance on Dragons’ Den. Sak accepted Meaden’s £40,000 offer for a 20% stake in the business and said he was “delighted”.
  • Costa Coffee came under fire from customers on Twitter for failing to mention meat on the front of packaging for its festive toastie. Costa apologised, adding that the back of pack and fridge label stated the product contained turkey and pork.
  • Samworth Brothers revealed it was to acquire 2 Sisters Food Group’s Manton Wood sandwich business. 2 Sisters Food Group said the deal was a major step in transforming the business, with a disposal that would allow it to focus on strengthening its core operations. The deal is still subject to review by the Competition and Markets Authority.
  • Premier Foods revealed its cake business had been hit by logistics problems with its new warehousing operation. It said its sales volume and efficiency in its Sweet Treats division, which includes Mr Kipling and Cadbury, had been impacted in the short term by consolidation of warehousing.
  • Wholesale manufacturer Margaret Hall was acquired by Panicium Limited, a new business aiming to build a craft bakery group through further deals. Panicium said the acquisition gave it a platform to bring together other craft bakeries into a single group with sales, marketing, distribution and purchasing benefits.

December 

  • Real Good Food (RGF) sold jams and preserves business R&W Scott and reported a half-year loss before tax of £9.1m. The business was sold for £4m and followed the sale of RGF’s Haydens Bakery and Garrett Ingredients brands in September and April respectively.
  • Depositing equipment supplier Unifiller Systems was acquired by Linxis Group, owner of mixing technologies businesses VMI and Diosna, and ingredient dosing systems supplier Shick Esteve.
  • Industry groups warned businesses would face a shortage of low-skilled staff under government proposals to set a £30,000-a-year minimum salary threshold for all migrant workers. Jim Winship, director of the British Sandwich Association responded to the plans suggesting the minimum should be around £20,000 in London and between £15-18,000 outside of London, depending on the location.
  • The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said government proposals for packaging producers to pay the full cost of recycling would place a considerable financial burden on manufacturers. The FDF added the timing of such announcement should be considered alongside the spectre of a no-deal Brexit scenario.
  • A study revealed that bakers are among the professions at risk from heat-related health problems including hyperthermia and heat strain; a condition of which the symptoms include elevated hyperthermia, dehydration, kidney injury, nausea, fainting and muscle cramps.

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