With the sale of its quiche manufacturing plant to The Food Investment Group at the end of January, Milton Keynes-based Giles Foods closed the door on nearly 30 years of producing and selling chilled quiches. But why sell a successful business that had grown by 150% in its previous year? The answer, says Giles, is added-value bread.

Giles has just completed the final phase of building a state-of-the-art speciality bread bakery, at a cost of over £5m. This is situated just around the corner from the old quiche factory. The site has been built in two phases: the initial phase saw construction of a speciality bakery, which has been fitted out with three automated bread lines. This now feeds a new added-value plant, with four automated lines, able to pack into chilled or frozen formats.

Realistic prices

Baguettes, ciabatta, focaccia, flat breads, slices and ‘tear-and-share’ are all produced at the new facility. Giles says it offers retailers and foodservice customers quality products, made to individual specifications, at realistic prices. To do this, the firm operates at high technical standards and completed the first full audit of the new site in February, gaining British Retail Consortium (BRC) Accreditation, grade A.

While this was happening, the company says it has kept its focus on the Danish pastry market. It has also upgraded its Warminster site, nearly doubling it in size. This site, too, has just achieved BRC accreditation, grade A.

Giles Foods’ technical director Cindy Lester says: “To gain grade A accreditation on both sites, while going through the turmoil of selling a major part of the business, has been an immense achievement by all members of the team. It was a real test of our systems and their robustness.”

Shop floor upwards

As a privately owned and managed company, Giles Foods does not have a complicated decision-making structure. The management runs the company from the shop floor upwards. Having turned over nearly £28m a year, before the sale of its quiche business, Giles now has ambitions to double its business from its new base of £13m over the next two years.

“‘Who are you?’ has been a question too often asked by buyers, when being contacted by the sales team,” says David Marx, sales and marketing director. “With buyers in high street retailers changing every 18 months to two years, we have to make a lasting impact. In order to do that, we will lead in development, quality and reliability.”