Geordie Bakers has grown sales in its business almost 100%, and has taken on new staff, since it was acquired by Minhoco 21 in May 2013.

The Newcastle upon Tyne business was on the verge of going into administration, but when former customer Mike Henderson, of The New Zealand Gourmet Pie Company, found out about its situation, he formed a new holding company in order to purchase the assets of the business.

Ian Thomson, who ran Geordie Bakers with his wife Jan, had previously been the contract manufacturer for the fellow Newcastle-based pie business.

Henderson told British Baker: “The business was losing money when we acquired it. There were around 17 employees and sales were really quite low.” He said the bakery was 80-90% bread-based, and supplied a number of blue chip companies as well as coffee shops and delis.

Following the acquisition of the business, three staff were made redundant, and Henderson said the business focused on “active selling initiatives”, in order to increase turnover.

“We had almost doubled sales by the end of November, and we then recruited five or six new employees with more baking skills than previously, so we are now stronger in that area,” said Henderson.

The bakery has also established a partnership with social enterprise Artisan Baking Community (ABC) - a group of ex-bakers who don’t have their own facility but borrow facilities at bakeries, and sell their products at farmers’ markets, for example. They then re-invest the cash, as they are a not-for-profit organisation, and also are keen to train young people with their skills.

Henderson said the bakery had essentially licensed the technology and will pay them a royalty for the products produced.

He said he was keen to use the recipes from this group of artisan bakers, as he felt this was an area that Geordie Bakers wasn’t as strong in. “We have gourmet pies, so we felt we really needed a good range of artisan breads,” he said.

Geordie Bakers has identified a small range of eight breads, including sourdoughs, a beer bread, and walnut and treacle bread, which are produced by hand, and will be launched this week.

He said the feedback from existing customers that have tested the range has been “extremely positive”, so it will look to supply this new range to both existing customers as well as attracting new business with them.

“We are paying a royalty, but the breads have credibility and it is a shortcut to the new product development,” he said.

Henderson admitted the business had hit a quieter period over the New Year as was customary for it, but he said he was confident sales would now pick up again, and were still well ahead of the previous year. “We are working hard to try and get the underlying volume up to where it was in October/November,” he added.

“We have also transferred the gourmet pie business to the site of Geordie Bakers,” he explained, adding that instead of two separate businesses running alongside each other, the finances have been integrated and the The New Zealand Gourmet Pie Company will now be a brand of Geordie Bakers rather than a separate business.