Plant bakery Rathbone Kear is looking at sites to build a new bakery in the next year, following a £1 million investment in its existing estate over the last 10 months.

Chief executive Harry Kear said he would like to build the site from scratch if the supermarket Morrisions (the majority shareholder in the company) gives the go-ahead. He told British Baker: “We have the team here that can do it.”

Mr Kear said the bakery would be expected to produce 6,000 loaves an hour, and is likely to be located in the south of the country. He commented: “It’s whether we can build another bakery that will give us long-term lower cost and consistent quality of product. There are plenty of opportunities. We are doing some appraisals, but we haven’t yet made a decision. Once we have agreed plans with Morrisons we will go ahead.”

The three existing Rathbone Kear bakeries, in Wakefield, Wigan and Middlesbrough, are trading comfortably, Mr Kear said. Annualised turnover is now £35m.

The sites were purchased from admininistrators of New Rathbones in May 2005, following New Rathbones’ collapse in April last year. Rathbone Kear spent over £1m in upgrading the sites and around 100 tertiary brands were discontinued in a focus on the Rathbones brand. There are no further plans for major capital spend in the existing bakeries. Mr Kear said: “I have increased specification, with higher grist to the flour, gone to one tin size and made sure all the bread contains soya and fat, which had previously been removed.”

He said he decided against bidding for any parts of the Harvestime (2005) estate when the other former Rathbones bakeries went into administration this year. Harvestime’s trade depended on another major multiple, which might not have wished to continue with Rathbone Kear, Mr Kear said.