Allied Bakeries is restructuring its UK mainland business into eight regional business units to improve service levels and efficiency.

A budget of several million pounds has been allocated to put in place the new devolved structure over the coming months, MD Mark Fairweather told British Baker.

Eight local bakeries will serve the newly designated local regions. For example, a new Pennine business unit will service the Stockport, Yorkshire and Chester areas.

Fairweather explained that the local bakeries would be largely self-sufficient under the new structure, baking a wider range tailored to different local appetites around the UK, for example, more morning rolls would be baked in Scotland. The regional bakeries would be able to tackle issues raised by customers in their region more swiftly than a central head office could, he added.

Two of Allied’s specialist bakeries would continue to operate nationally - its Stoke bakery, which makes its Crustless loaf, and its Liverpool hotplate bakery, he added.

He commented: "We are in the process of rolling this out. There are still several months to go. We will focus on quality and offering high service levels locally, with national marketing and sales activity."

Fairweather added that Allied was in the process of making sure it had the right people in the right roles across the UK, although the restructure was not a rationalisation process. The overhaul tied in with the wider environmental and political "macro-agenda" which was focused on issues such as reducing food miles and carbon footprint, said Fairweather.

Fairweather emphasised that the restructure, which was planned over the last six months, is a "long-term initiative". Alongside it, long-term relationships would be built with key suppliers. For example, Allied Bakeries would have a dedicated oven supplier which it would work with to develop bespoke products.