Hartlepool-based frozen desserts company Bonne Bouche is being restructured by the venture capitalists that back it.
The company’s founder and managing director Wayne Hitchman has left in the shake-up, and a number of board-level and less senior management changes are pending. Reports suggest Bonne Bouche is being run by its financial director Richard Dean and its sales and marketing director Andrew Wilkinson.
Financial director Richard Dean told British Baker the company did not wish to comment as it consulted with staff and unions on the restructure. The company is holding emergency talks with the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union over 29 proposed job cuts at the plant. It plans to axe 18 management and 11 factory floor jobs, union representative Alan Milne told British Baker. He said the union is negotiating to reduce the job cuts. The consultation is expected to conclude by Christmas.
Mr Milne said he understands Bonne Bouche’s problems were caused by price pressure from the supermarkets, which demanded excessive discounts.
Bonne Bouche currently has 300 staff involved in the production and hand-finishing of cakes. It supplies retail and foodservice outlets with offerings, such as gateaux, sponges, fudge cakes and cheesecakes and puddings, as well as speciality and premium cake and dessert lines.
The company was created by Wayne Hitchman who headed a management buyout of Freshbake Foods in July 2004. The deal was the third change of ownership for the site in seven months and its second rescue from administration.
Freshbake survived just six months. It was originally formed in January, through the buy-out of a Hibernia Foods factory, after Hibernia went into receivership in October, 2003, with debts of £17.5m.
Mr Hitchman had planned to produce more added-value offerings to fit the profile of Tesco’s Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference lines. He had also planned to develop a range of fat-free products.