Bakery supplier Rich Pro-ducts is rationalising its range in the UK, following its acquisition of craft business David Powell Bakeries in June 2005.

The fresh bread to frozen muffins supplier has so far stopped producing around 10% of products, including slow sellers, such as Eccles cakes, UK MD George Thomopoulos told British Baker. He commented: “We are going through the range and asking what are we great at? We have probably got rid of 10% of the portfolio and the integration is still

ongoing. You don’t want to be stuck with products that you don’t sell.”

Lines such as Eccles cakes were being made in small amounts and were not viable,

he said. “The Eccles cake market has historically been flat. You have to be ruthless but fair to customers. Wherever we can we help them obtain suitable new suppliers, we don’t leave customers in the lurch.”

Turnover is steady and strong, he said. Despite shedding SKUs, sales are stable on last year in both the Rich Products and David Powell divisions of the business.

“Two great brands have come together and formed a very exciting business,” commented Mr Thomopoulos. “We have simplified and integrated all systems and processes and we are revitalising the product portfolio. There’s a bit of duplication but not much, as Rich and David Powell sell different types of products. Rich does a lot of in-store and David Powell a lot of breads.”

Rich now has 230 staff across its two sites – the former David Powell bakery in Fareham, and a cookie manufacturing plant in Kidderminster, Worcester. It had around 250 when it took over David Powell, including agency staff. “I want to do away with agency labour; it is better if you use your own people,” said Mr Thomopoulos.

The company will focus on bakery and foodservice, looking at indulgent, frozen and desserts in the future to “exploit the intrinsic growth of the market”. It wants to focus on growth areas – such as speciality, ethnic, indulgence and convenience. Innovation is being driven by innovation director David Powell, “doing what he loves”, added Mr Thomopoulos. “He can really start to look at niche products, which complement what we are already doing in batters, fermented doughs, muffins, and cookies,” said Mr Thomopoulous. “We are also looking at ways to give products more life – to tweak them and exploit their potential in a new way.”

Rich was founded in the US in 1945. It opened its UK operation in Stratford upon Avon and relocated to Kidder-minster in Worcestershire in February 2003.